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Premodern Places: Calais to Surinam, Chaucer to Aphra Behn

ISBN: 978-0-470-77713-8
352 pages
April 2008, Wiley-Blackwell
Premodern Places: Calais to Surinam, Chaucer to Aphra Behn (0470777133) cover image
This book recovers places appearing in the mental mapping of medieval and Renaissance writers, from Chaucer to Aphra Behn.

  • A highly original work, which recovers the places that figure powerfully in premodern imagining.
  • Recreates places that appear in the works of Langland, Chaucer, Dante, Petrarch, Spenser, Shakespeare, Aphra Behn, and many others.
  • Begins with Calais – peopled by the English from 1347 to 1558 and ends with Surinam – traded for Manhattan by the English in 1667.
  • Other particular locations discussed include Flanders, Somerset, Genoa, and the Fortunate Islands (Canary Islands).
  • Includes fascinating anecdotes, such as the story of an English merchant learning love songs in Calais.
  • Provides insights into major historical narratives, such as race and slavery in Renaissance Europe.
  • Crosses the traditional divide between the medieval and Renaissance periods.
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List of illustrations.

Introduction.

1. At Calais Gate.

2. In Flaunders.

3. Dante in Somerset.

4. Genoa.

5. Canaries (The Fortunate Islands).

6. Surinam.

Acknowledgments.

Index

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David Wallace is Judith Rodin Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania and Life Member of Clare Hall, Cambridge. He has traveled extensively, exploring the importance of place both for print and documentary radio.
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  • A highly and engaging work by one of the world's most renowned medievalists.
  • Recreates and connects the places that appear in the works of Langland, Chaucer, Dante, Petrarch, Spenser, Shakespeare, Aphra Behn, and many others.
  • Explores the distinctive cultural life of a range of locations, among them Calais, Flanders, Somerset, Genoa, the Fortunate Islands (Canary Islands), and Manhattan.
  • Featuring fascinating vignettes, such as the story of an English merchant learning love songs in Calais.
  • Provides insights into major historical narratives, such as race and slavery in Renaissance Europe.
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“David Wallace’s knowledge of European medieval literature is unequalled. His book is a cornucopia of illuminating details, insights and connections that are simply not to be found anywhere else.” Terry Jones


“My Cinderella prize for the year’s most underrated book goes to David Wallace, whose Premodern Places mixes romance and bizarrerie in a study of medieval and Renaissance ideas about geography and locality.” Jonathan Keates, The Spectator 'Book of the Year' feature, 2004


“This is one of the sharpest and most imaginative books of literary criticism I've read in many years.” Peter Hulme, University of Essex


“Offering illuminating genealogies for a range of authors and literary texts, Premodern Places radically questions many assumptions about historical as well as geographic boundaries. … this book asks both premodernists and postcolonialists to rethink their disciplines and make urgent connections across space and time.” Ania Loomba, University of Pennsylvania


“… a most brilliant representative of Postcolonial Medieval Studies.” José Rabasa, University of California

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