The author establishes the significance of a concern for rhetoric, aesthetics and the senses in reading early modern texts. Aesthetic as a critical category becomes a crucial area of interest, and the stakes of thinking through the aesthetic seem to author to be of the greatest significance for any attempt, formalist or historicist, to think about writing. As Sir Philip Sidney notes in his peroration to A Defence of Poetry, 'there are many mysteries contained in poetry, which of purpose were written darkly, lest by profane wits it should be abused'. This is not a darkness that can be dissolved by a more enlightened criticism, although some forms of reading seem to author to be more illuminating than others. Early modern writing is not closed, completed or finished, it cannot be consigned safely to the past, and no account of it will circumscribe it to anyone's lasting satisfaction.