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date: 22 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter argues that the literary practice of imitatio served as a means of articulating the ideal relationship that should exist between ‘Father Ben’ and his ‘Sons’. That practice’s requirements of right judgement, right reading, and the careful absorption and critique of the model chosen for imitation are all used figuratively in the poems written by Jonson to ‘Sons’, and in those written by acknowledged ‘Sons’to or about him. Consequently, it is the rising value of proprietary authorship (something Jonson himself did so much to usher in) and the related emphasis on spontaneous literary generation that is used by Thomas Randolph, the poet most often designated by his contemporaries as Jonson’s ‘heir’, to represent his rejection of ‘Father Ben’ as an ethical and literary model.

Keywords: imitatio, Thomas Randolph, Lucius Cary, reading, friendship, ethics, plagiarism, exemplarity

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