Greene's Groatsworth of Wit.Greene's Groatsworth of Wit Bought with a Million of Repentance, entered in the Stationer's Register on 20 September 1592, contains nary a trace of literary merit, yet often dominates discourse surrounding Shakespeare's rise to the forefront of English theater. Its importance lies in the oft-quoted referral to Shakespeare as "an upstart Crow, beautified with our feathers, that with his Tygers hart wrapt wrapt
A past tense and a past participle of wrap. in a Players hyde, supposes he is as well able to bombast out a blanke verse as the best of you: and being an absolute Johannes fac totum, is in his owne conceit the onely Shake-scene in a countrey" (84-85). The pamphlet also offers indispensable commentary on other aspects of English drama, including contemporary accounts of Nashe, Marlowe, and Peele.
According to traditional scholarship, which Carroll convincingly dismantles throughout his erudite introduction, Greene composed the tale on his deathbed and related something of his own experience in the story of Roberto, a scholar who through the necessity of paternal disavowal dis·a·vow
tr.v. dis·a·vowed, dis·a·vow·ing, dis·a·vows
To disclaim knowledge of, responsibility for, or association with. assumes professional stints as playwright and rogue. As the quasi-autobiographical plot nears its end, Greene abandons his narrator-hero and adopts a first person monody monody
Accompanied solo song style of the early 17th century. It represented a reaction against the contrapuntal style (based on the combination of simultaneous melodic lines) of the 16th-century madrigal and motet. in which he vehemently attempts to expurgate ex·pur·gate
tr.v. ex·pur·gat·ed, ex·pur·gat·ing, ex·pur·gates
To remove erroneous, vulgar, obscene, or otherwise objectionable material from (a book, for example) before publication. the dangers of human vanity. This is followed by ten rules for a happy life, the address to fellow playwrights, Aesop's fable of the grasshopper grasshopper, name applied to almost 9,000 different species of singing, jumping insects in two families of the order Orthoptera. Grasshoppers are long, slender, winged insects with powerful hind legs and strong mandibles, or mouthparts, adapted for chewing. and ant - which Carroll states "appears to be the first version in print in English verse, the first to mix prose and verse, and the longest and most elaborate treatment of the fable up to this time" (147), and a penitential pen·i·ten·tial
1. Of, relating to, or expressing penitence.
2. Of or relating to penance.
1. A book or set of church rules concerning the sacrament of penance.
2. A penitent. letter written to his estranged es·trange
tr.v. es·tranged, es·trang·ing, es·trang·es
1. To make hostile, unsympathetic, or indifferent; alienate.
2. To remove from an accustomed place or set of associations. wife.
Carroll introduces Groatsworth with a full appraisal of its publication history, including a discussion of the perplexing per·plex
tr.v. per·plexed, per·plex·ing, per·plex·es
1. To confuse or trouble with uncertainty or doubt. See Synonyms at puzzle.
2. To make confusedly intricate; complicate. transfer of rights "vppon the perill of Henrye Chettle" (35) and details of others involved in its original printing. Carroll also explains the story's sources, indexes and cross-references entries thoroughly, and provides extensive glossings and appendices on all ambiguous or otherwise intriguing fragments and allusions in the text. Most importantly, however, and the major reason for Carroll's edition, is his handling of the recurrent arguments regarding authorship. Carroll proposes that "Greene may have had something to do with the writing of Groatsworth, Chettle certainly did" (ii).
His argument for Chettle's author-hip includes the pamphlet's immediate and lasting impact upon its publication on various men involved in London's literary environment, including Nashe, Harvey, Marlowe, and Shakespeare. Chettle, whose "competence at and impulse toward imitation" (3) has been extensively noted and catalogued by previous critics, was forced into a reactive denial regarding his authorship only three months after its appearance. Carroll argues that Chettle could not confess his authorship, as he did with the epistle to the second part of Anthony Munday's Gerileon (1592), because of almost certain legal entanglements impinging upon the inclusion of "Lamilias Fable" in Groatsworth.
"Lamilias Fable," a beast fable in the style popular at the time, becomes "a veiled attack against Lord Burghley" (4). Like Spenser's Mother Hubberd's Tale (1590), the fox represents the "chief marriage maker of his day" (108), William Cecil. Because of the dire consequences awaiting any condemnation of one of Burghley's most resorted-to financial and political means of ascendance as·cen·dance also as·cen·dence
Noun 1. ascendance - the state that exists when one person or group has power over another; "her apparent dominance of her husband was really her attempt to make him pay , Chettle's admission to participation in the writing of Groatsworth is still forthcoming. And although some of Carroll's reasons for believing Chettle's authorship rely heavily on previous studies and computer analyses, his discussion of the various representations of each animal in "Lamilias Fable" warrants attention and further enquiry, as does his adept untangling of "one of the most successful creative hoaxes in our culture."
DANA E. ASPINALL University of Connecticut The University of Connecticut is the State of Connecticut's land-grant university. It was founded in 1881 and serves more than 27,000 students on its six campuses, including more than 9,000 graduate students in multiple programs.
UConn's main campus is in Storrs, Connecticut.