A Late Seventeenth-Century Reader of Sir John Suckling

Laura Estill

Abstract


Although Bodleian MS Eng. misc. c. 34 has been briefly discussed in relation to its Shakespearean extracts, this miscellany has been overlooked as a key example of seventeenth-century reader-response, particularly in relation to early modern plays and, as this article demonstrates, Suckling’s literary works. P.D.’s miscellany is a significant document not only because it offers concrete evidence (extracts, summary, and commentaries) of how Suckling was read in the seventeenth century, but also because it contextualizes this response to Suckling alongside commentary about other playwrights. These extracts from Suckling’s works show what drew readers to his work: his wit, his turns of phrase, and even his cavalier attitude. P.D.’s summary presents /Aglaura/ from the standpoint of an early modern reader and shows the depth of that reader’s engagement with the play’s byzantine intricacies. These commentaries reveal the opinions of a thoughtful reader who carefully considered Suckling’s poems, plays, and epistles. The extracts, summary, and commentaries in Bodleian MS Eng. misc. c. 34 offer one early modern approach to Suckling as a literary figure by both re-presenting selected words of the poet-playwright and preserving one reader’s response in his own words.

Keywords


seventeenth century; commonplace books; Sir John Suckling; manuscripts; commonplacing; extracting; english renaissance drama;

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