The Seventeenth-Century Literature Handbook

The Seventeenth-Century Literature Handbook

The Seventeenth-Century Literature Handbook

The Seventeenth-Century Literature Handbook

Synopsis

The Seventeenth Century Handbook provides the undergraduate with a succinct account of the century's events, along with an exploration of the ways the literature reflected and helped shape the history of the time.
  • Provides a coherent narrative of the entire century of literary history as well as an easy-to-use guide to the principal literary works and figures
  • Offers an exploration of the ways the literature reflected and helped shape the history of the time
  • Describes the continuities as well as the radical changes in this century of civil war and reformation
  • Combines a central narrative account of "texts and contexts" with a selection of brief essays on key texts and topics
  • Includes an alphabetical selection of capsule descriptions of important writers

Excerpt

The seventeenth century is one of the richest periods of literary production in English history. It is bracketed by the plays of Shakespeare at the beginning and the great narrative poems of Milton toward its end. It is also perhaps the most tumultuous period in English history, punctuated by three regime changes: civil war between king and Parliament culminated in the beheading of Charles I and the founding of a republic in 1649; the republic failed, the Stuart dynasty was restored in 1660, and the second Stuart king of the restored monarchy was driven into exile and replaced by his daughter and Dutch son-in-law in 1688. In the larger world of intellectual history, the seventeenth century is the century of Bacon, Galileo, Kepler, and Newton, and in social theory, of Hobbes and Locke.

This book attempts to integrate a coherent narrative of the literary production of seventeenth-century Britain and a succinct account of the historical developments within and against which it took place. It is designed to be used by anyone with an interest in seventeenth-century British literature, either independently or in conjunction with a school or university course. It may be read sequentially or used as reference source in which to look up specific items. The first and longest of its four parts, Texts and Contexts: An Overview, seeks to give as clear an account as possible of what happened, of the sequence of events encountered by a person living at the time, and of the literary representations that accompanied those events. In addition, I try to make comprehensible the pressing issues of the time and to understand the literature in specific relation to them by observing a small selection of tropes, or figures of speech, as they are used differently in different contexts. The Texts and Contexts section endeavors to give a brief literary history of the seventeenth century. It is the heart of this book and reading it through will provide students of seventeenth-century literature with the basic sequence of events around which everything else in the volume may be organized and understood. To integrate the complex social and political history of the . . .

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