George Gascoigne (c. 1535 – 7 October 1577) was an English poet, soldier, and unsuccessful courtier. He was an early Elizabethan poet, He, is no great literary name in the great literary age of Elizabethan England. Nothing is definitely known about the time of his birth, but it is supposed that he professed arms instead of the pen in the early phase of his life. But subsequently, he changed his attitude and was involved seriously, without much success, in different literary pursuits.
Gascoigne was a miscellaneous author who attempted seriously to write verse, prose, and drama. His works include A Devise of a Maske, a verse tale, Don Bartholomew of Bathe, The Fruites of Warre (or Dulce Bellum Inexpertis), a martial poem, The Supposes, a comedy translated from Ariosto, Jocasta, a tragedy adapted from Euripides, The Pleasant Fable of Ferdinando Jeronimi and Leonara de Valasco, a prose tale, and Certayne Notes of Instruction, concerning the making of verse or ryme in English, a critical writing. All these miscellaneous works are found published in the volume under the title The Poesies of George Gascoigne Esquire (1575),
Gascoigne, a prolific author no doubt, has to his credit a number of other works, belonging to the later phase of his literary career. These later works are The Glasse of Government, a Tragical Comedie in prose, The Steele Glas, a Satyre, The Complaynt of Philomene, An Elegy, all published in 1576, and various prose treatises of edification, including a short pamphlet, with an alliterative tittle-A Delicate Diet for Daintie-mouth Droon Kardes.
Gascoigne, as already admitted, is no literary master, and there is nothing remarkable in the quality of his writing. His verse is, no doubt, pleasant and natural, but lacks variety. His prose is often too monotonous. There is but a little artistry in his literary efforts that are serious and varied.
As a matter of fact, Gascoigne’s significance lies not in his literary creation, but in his initiation in many departments of literature. He may well claim the distinction of writing first different literary matters – the first prose tale of modern life, the first prose comedy, the first tragedy, translated from the classical authors, the first masque, the first regular satire, and the first critical treatise on poetry. Moreover, his literary endeavor is marked in the verse tale as also in elegiac poetry.
Gascoigne is not merely a voluminous author, but also treats a great variety of literary matters. His competence, as a literary master, is not evident in any branch of his literary pursuits. He remains, in the ultimate analysis, a mediocre author whose literary pursuit is wide, but has neither depth nor height.
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