Reading, Society, and Politics in Early Modern England

By Kevin Sharpe; Steven N. Zwicker | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SIX
Irrational, impractical and unprofitable: reading
the news in seventeenth-century Britain

Joad Raymond


I

When Gabriel Harvey sat at his desk, his copy of Livy before him, surrounded by other works with which he intended to compare the Roman history, he did so with a clear sense of purpose: he wished to contrive practical advice for policymakers, and thereby to make himself a useful reader. John Dee studied his occult manuscripts and books with an objective in mind: to furnish himself with a better understanding of nature and providence, to further his insight into the Magus's arts, to draw closer to the philosopher's stone. When John Milton read Euripides, it was perhaps for pleasure, but also to acquire the solid learning of a gentleman, and to tool himself the better to achieve his literary ambitions. When Thomas Hobbes read Thucydides, he sought knowledge of history and good government.1 In the most everyday of reading encounters, readers consulted the Bible, seeking comforting words, the advice of their maker or his Son, and surer knowledge of salvation or the paths that led to it.2

Historians of the practices and interests of early modern readers have shown the centrality of reading to early modern history, especially but not exclusively cultural and intellectual history. They have emphasized the importance of ratio and utilitas in the conscious intentions of readers, and the sophistication of readers and their interpretive strategies. Reading, we are told, was 'utilitarian or preparatory' and radically analytic. Texts were anatomized and fragmented, individual words were subjected to perspicacious scrutiny. Comparison was diligently undertaken between passages within a text and between different texts: the book-wheel has been proposed not only as a practical means of accomplishing this, but as a metaphor for the intertextual habits of early modern readers. Texts were not speculatively explored so much as ruthlessly mined for florilegia and loci communes, for the purpose of confirming existing beliefs and contradicting the expressions of others.3

-185-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Reading, Society, and Politics in Early Modern England
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 363

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.