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Thomas Nashe- His Pamphlets and Controversies

His Pamphlets and Controversies

His first printed essay is his preface to Robert Greene’s romance, Menaphon (1589). Upon his first arrival in London he proceeded to enter in the Stationers’ Register his first literary venture, The Anatomie of Absurditie. Although his pamphlet was his early literary effort his first actual publication was his preface to Menaphon. This preface is the reason for his controversy with Harvey (Richard Harvey’s attack in a pamphlet entitled A Theologicall Discourse of the Lamb of God and His Enemies and then Gabriel Harvey’s attack in Foure Letters and Certaine Sonnets). This furious pamphlet war represents one of the most characteristics though least favourable specimens of the Elizabethan man of Letters. Nashe has developed his literary combat in anti-Martinist pamphleteering. Martin Marprelate is a contemporary popular writer. In Martin Marprelate’s pamphlets, indeed, he discovered a satirical style most compatible with his own talents. Martin did not meet Nashe until Nashe imitating the style of the Martinist pamphlets, published on An Almond for a Parrot. It is the only anti-Martinist pamphlet that produced a successful imitation of Martin’s invective. In his later pamphlets, beginning with his attack on Richard Harvey in Pierce Penilesse (the most popular of his book, and the one which perhaps first brought him into general voice) and continuing through his final pamphlet, Lenten Stuffe, Nashe perfected this borrowed style and finally made it his own.

It is believed Nashe has composed his plays A Pleasant Comodie, Called Summer’s Last Will and Testament for immediate performance at Croydon during September or October 1592 (because he was away from the city due to plague), although it was not published until 1600. His, The Terrors of the Night was published by 1594 but he sold it before June 30, 1593- it is a discourse of apparitions, for once, among these oddly-named pieces, tells a plain story. On September 8, 1593, his Christ’s Teares (He wrote it while he was acquainted with the family of Sir George Carey, a cousin of the Queen and this work was dedicated to Lady Caery) was registered- It is his longest book, is one of those rather enigmatical expressions of repentance for loose life.On September 17, 1593 The Unfortunate Traveller- in which Nashe, like many others, inveighs against the practice of sending young Englishmen to be corrupted abroad; and illustrates this theme by a great deal. The publication of Christ’s Teares immediately made trouble for him. In this work he attacks on London merchants, the misappropriation of public funds and the bribes by civic authorities in charge of these funds. In this Nashe generously apologizes to Harvey (it appeared in the first edition. Unaware of this apology Harvey attacked Nashe in A News Letter of Notable Contents. A biographer notes that in A News Letter Harvey has expressed suspicion of Nashe’s good intentions.

Nashe worked on a second lengthy reply to Harvey in Have with you. In the same interval he may have made his additions to Marlowe’s Tragedie of Dido Queene Of Carthage. After the publication of Have with You, he has worked on the comedy titled, The Isle of Dogs -which of no trace remains. This play was declared seditious, because of his satirical vein and distinguishing literary attribute in the work and so his papers were seized and submitted to the chief agent of the government in prosecuting acts suspected for treason, he was imprisoned.


Thomas Nashe By McGinn, Donald Joseph

A History of the Elizabethan Literature- George Saintsbury

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