978-0-19-924719-6 / 9780199247196

Poetry and Politics in the English Renaissance


Publisher:Oxford University Press, USA



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About the book:

Since its first publication in 1984, Poetry and Politics in the English Renaissance has been recognized as the most comprehensive and authoritative study of its kind. For this new edition, Norbrook has provided an extensive afterword which gives an overview of developments in methodology and research since 1984, responds to some criticisms, and points the way to further inquiry. Footnotes have been updated to take account of the current state of knowledge, and a chronological table has been provided for ease of reference. Norbrook brings out the range and adventurousness of early modern poets' engagements with the public world. The first part of the book establishes the more radical currents of thought shaping Renaissance poetry: civic humanism and apocalyptic Protestantism. Norbrook then shows how such leading Elizabethan poets as Sidney and Spenser, often seen as conservative monarchists, responded powerfully though sometimes ambivalently to more radical ideas. A chapter on Fulke Greville shows how that ambivalence reaches an extreme in some remarkable poetry. Ben Jonson emerges from this analysis as a figure with a political edge, pioneering a reaction against Elizabethan literary and political discourses for the new Stuart monarchy. That reaction in turn generated a neglected vein of 'oppositional' poetry under James I. Milton's early poetry can then be seen as negotiating a complex but increasingly emphatic path between opposing political and literary currents, looking forward to the debates of the English Revolution and beyond. This book's exceptional interdisciplinary commitment makes it a significant intervention in historians' debates about early modern political culture as well as in redrawing the map of literary history.

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