Difference between revisions of "Bear a Brain, or Better Late Than Never"

 
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Thomas Dekker (1599)  
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[[Dekker, Thomas|Thomas Dekker]] ([[1599]])  
  
 
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== Historical Records ==
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== Historical Records ==
  
F. 63 (Greg I.110)
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===Payments===
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====To playwrights in Philip Henslowe's diary====
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<br>
  
:Lent vnto Robart shawe the 1 of aguste
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Fol. 63 ([http://www.archive.org/stream/henslowesdiary00unkngoog#page/n170/mode/2up Greg I.110])
:1599 to paye m<sup>r</sup> deckers for a boocke
 
:<sup>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; beare a braine</sup>
 
:alled [bettr latte then never] the some
 
:of xxxx<sup>s</sup> in fulle payment lent vnto m<sup>r</sup>
 
:deckers at that time xx<sup>s</sup> so all is ... iij<sup>li</sup>
 
  
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::{|
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|-
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| Lent vnto Robart shawe the 1 of aguste ||}
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|-
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| 1599 to paye m<sup>r</sup> deckers for a boocke ||}
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|-
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| <sup>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; beare a braine</sup> ||}
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|-
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| called [bettr latte then never] the some ||}  iij<sup>li</sup>
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|-
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| of xxxx<sup>s</sup> in fulle payment lent vnto m<sup>r</sup> ||}
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|-
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| deckers at that time xx<sup>s</sup> so all is . . . . . . .  ||}
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|-
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|}
 
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== Theatrical Provenance ==
 
== Theatrical Provenance ==
  
''Bear a Brain, or Better Late than Never'' was acquired by the Admiral's Men in the summer of 1599, as the Globe was being built across Maid Lane.
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"Bear a Brain," apparently initially called "Better Late than Never," was acquired by the Admiral's men in the summer of 1599, as the Globe was being built across Maid Lane.
 
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<br>
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<br>
  
 
== Probable Genre(s) ==
 
== Probable Genre(s) ==
  
Comedy (Harbage)  
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Comedy ([[WorksCited|Harbage]])  
  
<br>  
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<br>
  
 
== Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues ==
 
== Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues ==
  
None known.  
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Beyond the clue in the proverbial title (even if originally "Better Late than Never"), nothing is known of the story materials behind this play.  
  
<br>  
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<br><br>
  
 
== References to the Play ==
 
== References to the Play ==
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<br>  
  
== Critical Commentary ==
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== Critical Commentary ==
 
 
Greg repeats F. G. Fleay's identification of ''Bear a Brain'' with ''Look About You'' (along with offering synonyms for the title including "have care," and "look about you"). Greg  then offers objections to the connection based mainly on his rejection of Dekker as author of ''Look About You''. Greg prefers to identify the payment for Bear a Brain with ''The Shoemakers Holiday'', but he cannot find a good reason to do so (II.Item #179, pp. 204-5).
 
 
 
Knutson suggests that the payment in full of 60s, 20s. of which was designated by Henslowe as a loan, may indicate that the play was secondhand (119).
 
  
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[[WorksCited|Fleay, ''BCED'']] listed "Bear a Brain" among Thomas Dekker's work but considered it "an old play of doubtful authorship" ([http://www.archive.org/stream/abiographicalch01fleagoog#page/n136/mode/2up 1.125]). He then asked, "Can it be that this title was discarded for ''Look About You'' (''LAY'')," which he had already "attributed to [Anthony] Wadson." In support of the conjecture, Fleay called attention to one instance of the phrase, "bear a brain," in ''LAY.'' In the entry on Wadeson, Fleay linked "[[Humorous Earl of Gloucester, with His Conquest of Portugal, The|The Honourable Life of the Humorous Earl of Gloster with his Conquest of Portugal]]" ("Gloster"), which is certainly by Wadeson, with ''LAY'' through the character of the Earl, who appears in the extant ''LAY'' ([http://www.archive.org/stream/abiographicalch02fleagoog#page/n277/mode/2up 2.266-67]). He considered "Gloster" a sequel to ''LAY''.
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[[WorksCited|Greg II]] was enthusiastic about Dekker's authorship of "Bear a Brain" but less so about that authorship if "Bear a Brain" was masquerading in the diary as ''Look About You''. Greg was rather insistent that ''LAY'' was not written by Dekker.  He granted that the phrase, "bear a brain," could mean "look about you" (also "have a care"), but saw nothing that suggested the several instances of "look about you" in the text of ''LAY'' had been edited from "bear a brain." He considered the authorship by Wadeson and implied assent by agreeing that "[[Humorous Earl of Gloucester, with His Conquest of Portugal, The|Gloster]]" makes a suitable sequel to ''LAY''. Loathe to let "Bear a Brain" be a discrete play, Greg toyed with the possibility that its title phrase could once have been an alternate for ''Gentle Craft'' and therefore ''The Shoemakers' Holiday'', but he cannot find sufficient reason to do so ([http://www.archive.org/stream/henslowesdiary02hensuoft#page/204/mode/2up #179, p. 204]).
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'''Knutson''' concurs with Fleay that the payment of 60s. for "Bear a Brain," 20s. of which was designated by Henslowe as a loan, indicates that the play was secondhand (p. 119). She considers the play purchased due to the language of the entry ("... in fulle payment ...").
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<br><br>
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'''Gurr''' repeats Greg's fanciful association of "Bear a Brain" with ''The Shoemaker's Holiday'' but, having decided that "[[Disguises]]" was ''LAY'', he does not comment on Greg's musings on ''LAY'' (p. 245, n97).
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<br><br>
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[[WorksCited|Wiggins, ''Catalogue'']] considers several explanations for the apparent double title of "Bear a Brain," but not the possibility that either title is a mask for an extant play such as ''Look About You'' or ''The Shoemakers' Holiday'' (#1190). Not considering the possibility that "Bear a Brain" was a secondhand play, he suggests that "Dekker had presumably already received" payment "without Henslowe's financial involvement" (#1190).
  
 
== For What It's Worth ==
 
== For What It's Worth ==
  
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See "[[Disguises]]" for another lost-play candidate as the Henslowe title of ''LAY''.
  
 
 
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<br>
 
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== Keywords ==
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[[category:Look About You]] [[category:Secondhand plays]] [[category:Henslowe's records]] [[category:Admiral's]] [[category:Rose]][[category:Roslyn L. Knutson]][[category:Thomas Dekker]][[category:Plays]][[category:Update]]
 
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[[category:all]]
Thomas Dekker [[category:Thomas Dekker]], ''Look About You'' [[category:Look About You]], Secondhand plays [[category:Secondhand plays]]
 
 
 
<br>
 
  
 
== Works Cited ==
 
== Works Cited ==
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<div style="padding-left: 2em; text-indent: -2em">Gurr, Andrew. ''Shakespeare's Opposites: The Admiral's Company 1594-1625''. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009. </div>
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<div style="padding-left: 2em; text-indent: -2em">Knutson, Roslyn L. "The Commercial Significance of the Payments for Playtexts in ''Henslowe's Diary'', 1597-1603." ''Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England'', 5 (1991): 117-63.</div>
 +
<br><br>
  
Knutson, Roslyn L. "The Commercial Significance of the Payments for Playtexts in ''Henslowe's Diary'', 1597-1603." ''Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England'', 5 (1991): 117-63.
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Site created and maintained by [[Roslyn L. Knutson]], Professor Emerita, University of Arkansas at Little Rock; updated 6 February 2012.
 
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[[category:partial payment]]
<br>
 
 
 
Site created and maintained by Roslyn L. Knutson, Professor Emerita, University of Arkansas at Little Rock; updated 31 October 2009.  
 
 
 
[[Category:Thomas_Dekker]] [[Category:Look_About_You]]
 

Latest revision as of 12:20, 24 November 2020

Thomas Dekker (1599)


Historical Records

Payments

To playwrights in Philip Henslowe's diary


Fol. 63 (Greg I.110)

Lent vnto Robart shawe the 1 of aguste }
1599 to paye mr deckers for a boocke }
                         beare a braine }
called [bettr latte then never] the some } iijli
of xxxxs in fulle payment lent vnto mr }
deckers at that time xxs so all is . . . . . . . }


Theatrical Provenance

"Bear a Brain," apparently initially called "Better Late than Never," was acquired by the Admiral's men in the summer of 1599, as the Globe was being built across Maid Lane.

Probable Genre(s)

Comedy (Harbage)


Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues

Beyond the clue in the proverbial title (even if originally "Better Late than Never"), nothing is known of the story materials behind this play.



References to the Play

None known.


Critical Commentary

Fleay, BCED listed "Bear a Brain" among Thomas Dekker's work but considered it "an old play of doubtful authorship" (1.125). He then asked, "Can it be that this title was discarded for Look About You (LAY)," which he had already "attributed to [Anthony] Wadson." In support of the conjecture, Fleay called attention to one instance of the phrase, "bear a brain," in LAY. In the entry on Wadeson, Fleay linked "The Honourable Life of the Humorous Earl of Gloster with his Conquest of Portugal" ("Gloster"), which is certainly by Wadeson, with LAY through the character of the Earl, who appears in the extant LAY (2.266-67). He considered "Gloster" a sequel to LAY.

Greg II was enthusiastic about Dekker's authorship of "Bear a Brain" but less so about that authorship if "Bear a Brain" was masquerading in the diary as Look About You. Greg was rather insistent that LAY was not written by Dekker. He granted that the phrase, "bear a brain," could mean "look about you" (also "have a care"), but saw nothing that suggested the several instances of "look about you" in the text of LAY had been edited from "bear a brain." He considered the authorship by Wadeson and implied assent by agreeing that "Gloster" makes a suitable sequel to LAY. Loathe to let "Bear a Brain" be a discrete play, Greg toyed with the possibility that its title phrase could once have been an alternate for Gentle Craft and therefore The Shoemakers' Holiday, but he cannot find sufficient reason to do so (#179, p. 204).

Knutson concurs with Fleay that the payment of 60s. for "Bear a Brain," 20s. of which was designated by Henslowe as a loan, indicates that the play was secondhand (p. 119). She considers the play purchased due to the language of the entry ("... in fulle payment ...").

Gurr repeats Greg's fanciful association of "Bear a Brain" with The Shoemaker's Holiday but, having decided that "Disguises" was LAY, he does not comment on Greg's musings on LAY (p. 245, n97).

Wiggins, Catalogue considers several explanations for the apparent double title of "Bear a Brain," but not the possibility that either title is a mask for an extant play such as Look About You or The Shoemakers' Holiday (#1190). Not considering the possibility that "Bear a Brain" was a secondhand play, he suggests that "Dekker had presumably already received" payment "without Henslowe's financial involvement" (#1190).

For What It's Worth

See "Disguises" for another lost-play candidate as the Henslowe title of LAY.



Works Cited

Gurr, Andrew. Shakespeare's Opposites: The Admiral's Company 1594-1625. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009.
Knutson, Roslyn L. "The Commercial Significance of the Payments for Playtexts in Henslowe's Diary, 1597-1603." Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England, 5 (1991): 117-63.



Site created and maintained by Roslyn L. Knutson, Professor Emerita, University of Arkansas at Little Rock; updated 6 February 2012.