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The Noble Spanish Soldier

58 pages
The Project Gutenberg eBook, The Noble Spanish Soldier, by Thomas DekkerThis eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it,give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online atwww.gutenberg.netTitle: The Noble Spanish SoldierAuthor: Thomas DekkerRelease Date: September 26, 2005 [eBook #16753]Language: English***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE NOBLE SPANISH SOLDIER***This etext was produced by John Price, University College Worcester, UK.THE NOBLE SPANISH SOLDIER by THOMAS DEKKERINTRODUCTIONTHOMAS DEKKERThomas Dekker is believed to have been born in London around 1572, but nothing is known for certain about his youth.He embarked on a career as a theatre writer early in his adult life, the first extant text of his work being 'Old Fortunatus'written around 1596, although there are plays connected with his name which were performed as early as 1594. Theperiod from 1596 to 1602 was the most prolific of his career, with 20 plays being attributed to him and an involvement inup to 28 other plays being suggested. It was during this period that he produced his most famous work, 'TheShoemaker's Holiday, or the Gentle Craft', categorised by modern critics as citizen comedy, it reflects his concerns withthe daily lives of ordinary Londoners. This play exemplifies his vivid use of language and the intermingling of everydaysubjects ...
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This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at
This etext was produced by John Price, University College Worcester, UK. THE NOBLE SPANISH SOLDIER by THOMAS DEKKER INTRODUCTION THOMAS DEKKER Thomas Dekker is believed to have been born in London around 1572, but nothing is known for certain about his youth. He embarked on a career as a theatre writer early in his adult life, the first extant text of his work being 'Old Fortunatus' written around 1596, although there are plays connected with his name which were performed as early as 1594. The period from 1596 to 1602 was the most prolific of his career, with 20 plays being attributed to him and an involvement in up to 28 other plays being suggested. It was during this period that he produced his most famous work, 'The Shoemaker's Holiday, or the Gentle Craft', categorised by modern critics as citizen comedy, it reflects his concerns with the daily lives of ordinary Londoners. This play exemplifies his vivid use of language and the intermingling of everyday subjects with the fantastical, embodied in this case by the rise of a craftsman to Mayor and the involvement of an unnamed but idealised king in the concluding banquet. He exhibited a similar vigour in such prose pamphlets as the ironically entitled 'The Wonderfull Yeare' (1603), about the plague, 'The Belman of London' (1608), about roguery and crime, and 'The Guls Horne-Booke' (1609), a valuable account of behaviour in the London theatres. Dekker was partly responsible for devising the street entertainment to celebrate the entry of James I into London in 1603 and he managed the Lord Mayor's pageant in 1612. His fortunes took a turn for the worse shortly after, when between 1613 and 1619 he was imprisoned, probably for debt; this experience may be behind his six prison scenes first included in the sixth edition (1616) of Sir Thomas Overbury's 'Characters'. He died in 1632 and was buried at St James', Clerkenwell.
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Release Date: September 26, 2005 [eBook #16753] Language: English
Author: Thomas Dekker
Title: The Noble Spanish Soldier
entty  bisy ri w ehtylnoR.S' ,'.n playwr Jacobea hhtso egithw ti
(2) It has been observed, initially by nineteenth century scholar A. H. Bullen, that three sections of a play by John Day called 'The Parliament of Bees' are nearly identical to sections of NSS. Furthermore a further five sections correspond closely to parts of 'The Wonder of a Kingdom' which as is noted above, was registered alongside NSS in 1931. (3) In 1601, theatre manager Philip Henslow made part payment for an anonymous play called 'The Spanish Fig', no text of which survives under that name. (4) In April 1624 a poster appeared in Norwich advertising a touring play, being 'An excellent Comedy called The Spanish Contract' to be performed by Lady Elizabeth's men, a company with which Dekker is believed to have had connections. (5) There is some evidence of confusion in how the play has been compiled for printing, in particular, a cast list which omits several significant characters, the late appearance of two pointless characters (Signor No and Juanna) and the delayed identification of Alanzo as Captain of the Guard. These have been argued to be evidence of revision of an earlier work. (6) Dekker's 'The Welsh Embassador' reworked much of the material in NSS, albeit in a comedic form. This is generally dated as c1623. As may be imagined, these facts offer a considerable range of possibilities as to authorship and provenance of the play. Various critics, such as Fleay and Bullen, have tried to make sense of all of them by postulating, largely without evidence, a variety of permutations of collaboration and revision so as to give all of the authorship candidates a role in the production of the text we now have. The most persuasive contribution however, comes from Julia Gasper who, building on work by R. Koeppel, convincingly identifies the source of NSS as being Volume V of Jacques-Augueste de Thou's Latin 'Historiarum Sui Temporis', published in 1620 1>. < The de Thou volume tells of how Henri IV of France reneged on a written promise of marriage to Hentiette d'Entragues, by marrying Marie be Medicis in 1600; both women bore sons by the King, who is later assassinated. This closely anticipates the marriage plot of NSS but the critical detail which seals the identification of de Thou as the source, is his reference to a soldier called Balthazare Sunica who acted against the King and was clearly, the original of the character Balthazar in NSS. This evidence demonstrates that the earliest date for composition of NSS is 1620. Furthermore, due to the likelihood that NSS predated 'The Welsh Embassador' of 1623/4, a last possible date for the writing of NSS, can also be deduced and a composition date of around 1622 can be established with some certainty. With respect to the relationship with other plays, any connection with the 'The Spanish Fig' would seem to be ruled out on the grounds that it pre-dates the publication of de Thou's Historiarum. In the case of the later play 'The Spanish Contract', a connection is possible although any theories that may be advanced little more than conjecture. One such theory, put forward by Tirthanker Bose <2>, is that 'the Spanish Contract' is a version of NSS, reworked as a comedy and thus is an intermediate stage on the road to 'The Welsh Embassador'. The more pressing matter, the question of the connection with 'The Parliament of Bees', is also addressed by Julia Gasper. The crucial evidence here relates to instances where details, meaningful only in the context of NSS, have become embedded in the text of 'The Parliament of Bees'. The most significant example of this occurs in Scene 1, Line 29 of 'The Parliament of Bees' where a character asks 'Is Master Bee at leisure to speak Spanish / With a Bee of Service?'. There is no connection between 'The Parliament of Bees' and Spain or indeed, the Spanish language, so it would seem strong evidence that NSS was the source for 'The Parliament of Bees' and not the other way around. This evidence is supplemented by an analysis of NSS, Act 2 Scene 1, a scene common to both plays, when Balthazar sets out his credentials of loyal service in seeking to advise the King. Gasper points out that this scene in NSS contains elements from de Thou, not to be found in The Parliament of Bees, principally the need to intervene on behalf of Onaelia. The only plausible order of composition for the plays therefore places NSS before 'The Parliament of Bees'. Furthermore as Day's name has never been associated with NSS, there is no reason to suppose he was involved in its composition. The likelihood is therefore that he was lifting dialogue from an earlier work by another writer in order to serve his own convenience. The remaining question to be considered concerns the relative claims to authorship of Dekker and Rowley. In weighing the evidence, it is important to consider that that the first records, those on the Stationer's Register, unequivocally record Dekker as the sole author. Furthermore, textual scholarship is happy to place NSS within the Dekker cannon, while, as Hoy says 'no scholar has ever succeeded in demonstrating Rowley's share in the play' <3>. Given that is has been established that the play post-dates 1620, the possibility of a Dekker revision of an earlier Rowley text would appear to be implausible. The attribution to 'S.R.' remains unexplained, although it may be noted in passing that the initials are the final letters of Dekker's names, so it may just be a coded reference to Dekker. More likely perhaps, it could be the result of the editorial confusion which also pervades the compilation of the cast list. Performance There is no firm record of the play being performed, although the foreword does make mention of it being enthusiastically received. Such references are not, of course, to be taken at face value as they would hardly be expected to say anything else; nevertheless, it does strongly suggest that the play has been staged. In practice, the printing of a text suggests either high popularity, in which case sales could be expected to compensate for possible plagiarism, or else relative unpopularity in which case publication was a last attempt to generate some financial return before the play was discarded. In this instance, the later circumstance is likely to obtain, especially in view of the gap between writing and
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