Nashe’s Extemporal Vein and his Tarltonizing Wit
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This chapter explores what 'tarltonizing wit' meant in the works of Thomas Nashe. It analyzes the relationship between this phrase and improvised theatrical performance, as well as its connection to what Nashe calls writing in the "extemporal vein". The "extemporal vein", as he calls it in his preface to Greene's Menaphon, is critical to good writing: the ideal writer is "the man whose extemporal vein in any humor will excel people's greatest Art-master's deliberate thoughts; whose invention, quicker than his eye, will challenge the proudest Rhetorician". Nashe's style is an attempt to live out the ideal conception of the extemporal vein that he outlines in the theories of writing. Surprisingly, Harvey's accusations about Nashe plagiarizing Tarlton strangely echo another invective conflict involving Nashe. The clown constantly emphasizes the improvisational nature of his performance, and through him Nashe cues audience members in the know to watch for the application of his extemporal vein to the stage.