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Ben Jonson has long been acknowledged as a writer concerned with the effects of fame, but has most often been construed as a figure in conflict with the cultural processes of commercial print and performance through which he made his reputation. However, the recent discovery of an eyewitness account of his 1618 walk from London to Edinburgh shows us an author more at ease with the public gaze. This essay draws on contemporary thinking about celebrity to argue for a revision of the customary view of a Ben Jonson fighting with ill-fame, and to see him as a more active participant in the processes through which his persona was produced and circulated. This has implications for how we understand the genealogy of literary celebrity, and allows us to situate the early modern interest in, and concern with, the media or cultural production, in a longer history.
- Ben Jonson
- ‘Foot Voyage’
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