Thomas Lodge: The History of an Elizabethan

Thomas Lodge: The History of an Elizabethan

Thomas Lodge: The History of an Elizabethan

Thomas Lodge: The History of an Elizabethan

Excerpt

It is doubtless inevitable that the minor literary figures of Shakespeare's age should have come down to us with outlines obscured by the shadow of their great contemporary: it could hardly have been otherwise. The names of a few of them are familiar in our ears because of the vividness of their personalities which made them stand out even in an extraordinarily vivid age; or because of the romantic elegance with which they lived and died; or, more probably, because they touched the work of Shakespeare at some point. It is to this last group that Thomas Lodge seems chiefly to belong. He is known to the modern world as the author of Rosalynde, not as one of the first of English satirists, not as one of the earliest defenders of the stage against the assaults of the Puritans, not as one of the first Englishmen to make the long and hazardous voyage to the new world, not as the translator of the works of Seneca or Josephus. And Rosalynde, although it has positive virtues of its own, is now interesting chiefly because of the use which Shakespeare made of it in As You Like It.

The more personal passages in Lodge's work are marked by a note of recurrent melancholy, as if he were not entirely at his ease in the world in which he found himself. His literary ambitions were high, his education the best which the age could provide, his mind alert, well stored, and receptive, his talents by no means inconsiderable, and yet he seems to have lived under the tyranny of a gnawing sense of neglect. He was always unhappily aware of the fact that while the literary world of his time would listen to him with some attention, it would never admit him to the high place which he most earnestly desired to achieve.

Posterity has been little kinder to Lodge's name. Just as . . .

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