When it was an active organization, the Thomas Lovell Beddoes Society produced a number of publications.
The last two issues of the Society’s newsletter are online:
Back issues of the Society’s newsletter are available for purchase.
HOMAGE TO HOMUNCULUS MANDRAKE
BY ALAN HALSEY
Commentators on Death’s Jest-Book have generally regarded Homunculus Mandrake as a simple clown, the focus of a comic subplot which adds entertainment to a grim play. In this essay Alan Halsey looks at the possibility that Beddoes intended Mandrake to be seen as a genuine homunculus — even, perhaps, the ‘artificial man’ Paracelsus claimed he had created. He goes on to explore other Paracelsian aspects of the play, arguing that the structure of Death’s Jest-Book is modelled on the ‘as above so below’ formula of medieval alchemy and relating its themes to Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Homage to Homunculus Mandrake offers, as the subtitle claims, a new reading of Death’s Jest-Book. (1996) 28 pp, £3.
SCATTERED LIMBS: THE MAKING AND UNMAKING OF DEATH’S JEST-BOOK
BY MICHAEL BRADSHAW
Thomas Lovell Beddoes (1803-1849) is surely the most unjustly neglected poet of the English Romantic period. His powerful blank verse and finely balanced lyrics, and his characteristic macabre humour make him a troubled and challenging successor to Byron, Shelley and Keats. Yet there are certain formal and generic problems in Beddoes’s writings that have continued to marginalise him as merely an eccentric. His pastiche Elizabethan tragedy Death’s Jest-Book is especially problematic: sprawling to an even greater length than Hamlet, and yet scattering itself also into many small fragments… the Jest-Book was the text Beddoes could not finish, the black whole which swallowed up new writings in a never-ending process of revision. In this study Michael Bradshaw attempts to offer a new approach to reading the Jest-Book in the light of recent theoretical work on fragmentary texts. Scattered Limbs relates the formal question of fragmentation to the drama’s occult subject matter, and argues that in his greatest work Beddoes developed a special poetic language to pour scorn on his search for human immortality, in doing so changing the nature of closure and the idea of an ending. The dismemberment of Death’s Jest-Book is also its new life. (1996) 45 pp, £3.
A SKELETON KEY TO DEATH’S JEST-BOOK
BY ALAN HALSEY
Thomas Lovell Beddoes began writing Death’s Jest-Book, a tragedy in five acts, in 1825. A draft was completed by 1829 but Beddoes was discouraged by the criticism of his friends Kelsall and Procter and abandoned plans for publication. During the 1830s, however, he attempted major revisions of the play and continued to make further additions to it in the 1840s. It was published posthumously in 1850 and a variorum text was prepared by H.W. Donner for his edition of The Works in 1935. The play is undoubtedly Beddoes’ masterpiece. In this study Alan Halsey sets Death’s Jest-Book in the context of Beddoes’ life and thought, exploring the themes of late Romanticism and the attempt to revive the English drama. Alan Halsey’s other books include Five Years Out (Galloping Dog Press 1989) and The Text of Shelley’s Death (Five Seasons 1995). (1995) 40 pp, £3.
DEATH’S JEST-BOOK: A STAGE VERSION
BY JEROME MCGANN
Jerome McGann (John Stewart Bryan University Professor, University of Virginia) relies on the 1829 version of the play in creating this adaptation intended for stage performance. He keeps closely to the original text but makes two important changes, omitting the subplot involving the rivalry of Adalmar and Athulf for Amala, and replacing Isbrand with Beddoes himself. (2003) 56 pp, £4.50.
T.L. BEDDOES AND THE HERMETIC TRADITION
BY CHRISTOPHER MOYLAN
(1999) 30 pp, £3.
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