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This collection features three of Jonson's masterpieces: Volpone, Epicoene, and The Alchemist.
Also included are three masques: Mercury Vindicated from the Alchemist at Court, Pleasure Reconciled to Virtue, and—new to the Second Edition—The Masque of Blackness, Jonson's first masque and one that deals with issues of interest to contemporary culture. Each text includes expanded annotations.
Jonson on His Work collects statements by the author on plays and on poetry taken from some of the plays, from Discoveries, and from Conversations with William Drummond of Hawthornden.
Contemporary Readers on Jonson includes tributes and poems about the author and his work. A new section—"Backgrounds and Sources"—includes selections from texts that helped shaped the dramatist's vision.
Criticism includes twelve essays—nine of them new to the Second Edition—by Jonas A. Barish, Robert C. Evans, Anne Barton, John Dryden, Robert Watson, Edward B. Partridge, Ian Donaldson, Richard Harp, D. J. Gordon, Stephen Orgel, John Mulryan, and Leah S. Marcus.