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
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

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

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

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?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 363

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, 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." (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

    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.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    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.