English Renaissance Prose: History, Language, and Politics

English Renaissance Prose: History, Language, and Politics

English Renaissance Prose: History, Language, and Politics

English Renaissance Prose: History, Language, and Politics

Excerpt

English prose of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries has no “Casebook” or “Critical Heritage,” and there is no general account of the critical reception of the subject. But if the term Renaissance remains serviceable as a description of a literary period, then Sidney's Arcadia, Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy, the writings of Bacon, Milton, and Browne, and above all the development of the English Bible, are clearly part of that cultural phenomenon. There are, of course, many studies of Renaissance prose written by and for specialist scholars, but little that can be offered to the student as a way into reading these rich but often challenging texts. So the present volume is designed principally to act as an introduction to some of the major figures and works in the field, though some of the essays will undoubtedly also be of interest to the specialist.

Any account of the critical reception of English Renaissance prose should probably begin with the Romantic movement, since it is within that movement that the subject was constructed as a distinct entity and granted a literary status comparable with the achievements of Renaissance poetry and drama. In particular, it was Coleridge and his circle, whose enthusiastic rediscovery of the prose writers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries reversed (in Coleridge's view) “the common opinion that the English style attained its greatest perfection in and about Queen Anne's reign.” For Coleridge “the great models of [the classical style] in English are Hooker, Bacon, Milton and Taylor,” and while this style was “easily open to corruption … it is the existence of an individual idiom in . . .

Author Advanced search

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.