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A History of Seventeenth-Century English Literature

ISBN: 978-0-631-22169-2
480 pages
December 2006, Wiley-Blackwell
A History of Seventeenth-Century English Literature (0631221697) cover image
A History of Seventeenth-Century Literature outlines significant developments in the English literary tradition between the years 1603 and 1690.

  • An energetic and provocative history of English literature from 1603-1690.
  • Part of the major Blackwell History of English Literature series.
  • Locates seventeenth-century English literature in its social and cultural contexts.
  • Considers the physical conditions of literary production and consumption.
  • Looks at the complex political, religious, cultural and social pressures on seventeenth-century writers.
  • Features close critical engagement with major authors and texts

Thomas Corns is a major international authority on Milton, the Caroline Court, and the political literature of the English Civil War and the Interregnum.

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List of illustrations ix

Preface x

1 The Last Years of Elizabeth I: Before March 1603 1

Literary Consumption and Production 2

Latin, Neo-Latin and English 14

Manuscript, Performance, Print 16

The Press and its Controls 22

The Final Years of Elizabethan Theatre 26

Patronage and Court Culture 30

2 From the Accession of James I to the Defenestration of Prague: March 1603 to May 1618 33

Changes and Continuities 33

The Making of the Royal Courts 35

Masques and Other Court Entertainments 38

Early Jacobean Theatre 42

Jacobean Shakespeare 45

Other Drama 70

Non-Dramatic Poetry 87

Non-Fictional Prose 113

3 From the Defenestration of Prague to the Personal Rule: May 1618 to March 1629 119

Continental Wars 119

Three Funerals and a Wedding 123

Masques and Pageants 129

Plays and Players 133

Poetry and Prose Romance 151

Non-Fictional Prose 156

News 164

4 The Literature of the Personal Rule: March 1629 to April 1640 167

The Making of the Caroline Court 167

Masques of the Personal Rule 176

Other Entertainments 182

Music and Literature at the Caroline Court 184

Themes, Occasions and Conversations 186

From Manuscript to Print 190

Plays and Players 192

Literature and Laudianism 203

George Herbert 206

The Emblem Books of Quarles and Wither 215

Early Milton 221

5 From the Short Parliament to the Restoration: April 1640 to May 1660 229

Events and Consequences 229

Royalist Poetry 239

Crashaw and Vaughan 264

Mid-Century Drama 273

Sir Thomas Browne 277

Poetry for Parliament and Protectorate 283

Pamphlet Wars 295

Newspapers 311

6 The Literature of the Rule of Charles II: May 1660 to February 1685 317

Dissent, Popery and Arbitrary Government 317

Theatre of the Rule of Charles II 327

Rochesterism 352

The Poetry of Dryden and Butler 360

Marvell After 1660 370

Bunyan, Pepys and Sprat 381

Milton, St Nicholas and Hutchinson 391

Katherine Philips and Margaret Cavendish 405

7 From the Accession of James II: After February 1685 409

James II and the Williamite Revolution 409

Aphra Behn: The Late Works 413

Dryden and James II 416

After 1690 421

Bibliography 429

Index 453

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Thomas N. Corns is Professor of English at the University of Wales, Bangor. His recent publications include A Companion to Milton (ed., Blackwell Publishing, 2001) and The Royal Image: Representations of Charles I (ed., 1999). He is an Honoured Scholar of the Milton Society of America.
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  • An energetic and provocative history of English literature from 1603-1690.

  • Part of the major Blackwell History of English Literature series.

  • Locates seventeenth-century English literature in its social and cultural contexts.

  • Considers the physical conditions of literary production and consumption.

  • Looks at the complex political, religious, cultural and social pressures on seventeenth-century writers.

  • Features close critical engagement with major authors and texts.

  • Thomas Corns is a major international authority on Milton, the Caroline Court, and the political literature of the English Civil War and the Interregnum.
See More

“This “handbook” is, perhaps, more “textbook” than “reference book”, but it is well done and would be a useful resource for undergraduate libraries.”  (Reference Reviews , 2011)

Tom Corns’s book is the first of its kind to attempt to relate literature to the history of its time not merely in broad abstract terms but in specific detail. He discusses individual works in such a way that they reoccupy their rightful place among the social and political events of their time. And so they come freshly alive. This is not the only story that could be told about literature, but it is one not to be ignored.

 

Alastair Fowler, Regius Professor of Rhetoric and English Literature, University of Edinburgh

Thomas Corns has written an exceptionally fine and remarkably ambitious history of seventeenth-century English literary culture. One of its great virtues is that this history begins with the late Elizabethan period and extends its account to the very end of the seventeenth century, thereby crossing and reexamining traditional boundaries of literary historical periodisation. Corns deftly illuminates the distinctive aesthetic achievements of seventeenth-century English writers, while precisely situating their works in their social, political, and religious contexts, as well as in relation to the other arts. Students and scholars alike will find this new, wide-ranging literary history of the period invaluable. It is an outstanding achievement. David Loewenstein, University of Wisconsin-Madison

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