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Death's Jest-Book

Thomas Lovell Beddoes

Edited by Michael Bradshaw

Cover Picture of Death's Jest-Book
Categories: 19th Century
Imprint: Fyfield Books
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Available as:
Paperback (220 pages)
(Pub. Sep 2003)
Out of Stock
Digital access available through Exact Editions
  • Description
  • Excerpt
  • Editor
  • Now see you how this dragon-egg of ours
    Swells with its ripening plot? Methinks I hear
    Snaky rebellion turning restless in it,
    And with its horny jaws scraping away
    The shell that hides it. All is ready now:
    I hold the latch-string of a new world's wicket;
    One pull and it rolls in. Bid all our friends
    Meet in that ruinous churchyard once again,
    By moonrise; until then I'll hide myself;
    For these sweet thoughts rise dimpling to my lips,
    And break the dark stagnation of my features,
    Like sugar melting in a glass of poison.
    To-morrow, Siegfried, shalt thou see me sitting,
    One of the drivers of this racing earth,
    With Grussau's reins between my fingers. Ha!
    Never since Hell laughed at the church, blood-drunken
    From rack and wheel, has there been joy so mad
    As that which stings my marrow now.

    Death's Jest-Book is Thomas Lovell Beddoes' long neglected masterwork, a revenge tragedy replete with murder, sorcery and haunting

    After early acclaim as a lyric poet and dramatist, Thomas Lovell Beddoes (1803-1849) began Death's Jest-Book in 1825, as he moved to Germany to study medicine. Initially conceived as a satirical tragedy unmasking the terror of death, the Jest-Book was the counterpart of Beddoe's anatomical researches.

    This edition presents the Jest-Book in its early form, as Beddoes intended to publish it in 1829. It is the centre of Beddoe's achievement, a pastiche Renaissance tragedy replete with treachery, murder, sorcery and haunting, the extravagant expression of the poet's lifelong obsession with mortality and immortality. The drama contains some of the most powerful blank verse by any of the British Romantics.
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