Epigrams in print
in The epigram in England, 1590–1640
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This chapter describes the dynamics of print publication of epigrams: their typical printed format, their place in the print market-place and the sequencing of large numbers of epigrams. Poets offered a variety of rationales for print publication (including appeals to the precedent of Martial) and often manifest anxiety about appearing in this more public medium. The ephemeral quality of so many epigrams also raised doubts about the appropriateness of publication. The licentious and at times libellous quality of epigrams sometimes led to censorship, as in their inclusion in the Bishops’ Ban of 1598. The generally ‘low’ nature of the genre complicated appeals to patronage in the dedications of printed epigram books. These concerns and challenges are explored through case studies involving Charles Fitzgeffry, Thomas Freeman and Ben Jonson.

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