Beecher, D. A. (1972)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.
Though Ben Jonson's Sejanus has received virtually no approbation as a work for the theater, it has yet been the subject of much critical attention. There is widespread recognition that the play is no ordinary failure, that it is a work full of learning, carefully structured and thematically potent, an intelligent effort to reform Renaissance historical tragedy. Still there is no agreement about what kind of achievement the play actually represents. The concern of this dissertation is with the intellectual origins of the play; it is a study in the traditions and methods which appear to have guided Jonson in his writing of Sejanus. It is my thesis that its genesis is to be found in Jonson's interest in non-literary discipines - history, methods of historical writing, politics and constitutional issues - rather than in literary criticism and conventions. Jonson found his new style in political history, his themes in the conflict between morality and the logistics of realpolitik.
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