"All His Workes Sir": John Taylor's Nonsense
This paper uses the long Nonsense-writing career of Taylor to discuss the political and cultural uses of Nonsense, tracing shifts internal to the genre which testify to Taylor's increasing sense of disillusion and despair as the royalist cause for which he was so robust an apologist frays into apparently final desuetude. Early Nonsense works like the "Utopian" unknown tongue of the squibs directed at Thomas Coryate or Sir Gregory Nonsence His Newes from No Place (all republished in the 1630 Workes) are very different in aims and means from the later The Essence of Nonsence upon Sence (1653) or the baffled despair of the mock-newssheet Mercurius Nonsensicus (1648). I examine the circumstances of publication of these texts, in addition to their deployment of the forms of Nonsense to articulate the experience of The World Turn'd Upside Down (Taylor's pamphlet of 1647); specific attention is given to the linguistic texture of Taylor's Nonsense. I also consider those ways in which Taylor's own "amphibious" social position, as poet and waterman, unlearned yet a writer, implicates his own work within the very social topsy-turviness which is the cause of his unease, creating further discomforts and silences within the texts themselves.