Classical and Christian Ideas in English Renaissance Poetry: A Student's Guide

By Isabel Rivers | Go to book overview

Preface to the Second Edition

This handbook has been in print continuously since its first publication in 1979, and I am pleased that several generations of undergraduate and graduate students and their teachers have found it useful. Since I wrote it there has been an explosion of research and publication in many areas of Renaissance studies, and in order for the book to retain its usefulness as a bibliographical guide I thought it necessary to bring the bibliographical sections up to date. I have partly rewritten the Introduction, but otherwise the structure, the introductory chapters, and the collections of extracts remain unchanged, except for some minor corrections. I have added a new paragraph to each of the sections under Further Reading, taking account of significant publications since 1977 (when I completed the first edition); in a few cases I have included earlier books which I was unaware of or unable to consult. Bibliographical Appendix A and the introductory section to B have been comprehensively revised; further titles have been added to the majority of the authors under B, and thirteen new authors have been included. I am very grateful to Julia Griffin of St John's College, Oxford, who has helped me with the work for the Bibliographical Appendix.

There have been important developments in scholarly research in two of the principal subjects with which this book is concerned: religion and philosophy. First, many historians of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries have become much more interested in ideas and beliefs and what these meant to those who held them, and much less willing to translate these ideas and beliefs into modern secular or socio-economic terms. One consequence of this valuable new emphasis is a continuing debate among historians of the English Reformation and Revolution as to the meaning of key terms such as Reformed and Catholic, Calvinist and Arminian, and Puritan and Anglican. Much important new work has been done by literary historians on Spenser, Donne, Herbert, Milton, and other poets in the light of this development. Second, the vitality and variousness of Renaissance philosophy is now increasingly recognised, and our knowledge has been significantly extended, for example in the study of humanism and rhetoric and of the continuing strength of Aristotelianism in the sixteenth century. There is now much more material available to help modern readers set English Renaissance poetry in its intellectual contexts. If this revised, second edition

-vi-

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Classical and Christian Ideas in English Renaissance Poetry: A Student's Guide
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface to the Second Edition vi
  • Preface to the First Edition viii
  • Introduction: Renaissance Poetry and Modern Readers 1
  • 1 - The Golden Age and the Garden of Eden 9
  • 2 - The Pagan Gods 20
  • 3 - Platonism and Neoplatonism 33
  • 4 - Stoicism 44
  • 5 - Views of History 54
  • 6 - Cosmology 68
  • 7 - Reformation and Counter-Reformation 88
  • 8 - Protestant Theology 106
  • 9 - Humanism 125
  • 10 - Biblical Exegesis and Typology 140
  • 11 - Theories of Poetry 150
  • 12 - Allegory 160
  • 13 - Numerology 170
  • A Note on the Division of Historical Periods 183
  • Abbreviations 184
  • References 185
  • Further Reading 193
  • Bibliographical Appendix 205
  • Author Index 229
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