Aesthetics of contingency provides an important reconsideration of seventeenth-century literature in light of new understandings of the English past. Emphasising the contingency of the political in revolutionary England and its extended aftermath, Matthew Augustine challenges prevailing literary histories plotted according to structural conflicts and teleological narrative. In their place, he offers an innovative account of imaginative and polemical writing, in an effort to view later seventeenth-century literature on its own terms: without certainty about the future, or indeed the recent past. In hewing to this premise, the familiar outline of the period – with red lines drawn at 1642, 1660, or 1688 – becomes suggestively blurred. For all of Milton’s prophetic gestures, for all of Dryden’s presumption to speak for, to epitomise his Age, writing from the later decades of the seventeenth century remained supremely responsive to uncertainty, to the tremors of civil conflict and to the enduring crises and contradictions of Stuart governance. A study of major writings from the Personal Rule to the Glorious Revolution and beyond, this book also re-examines the material conditions of literature in this age. By carefully deciphering the multi-layered forces at work in acts of writing and reception, and with due consideration for the forms in which texts were cast, this book explores the complex nature of making meaning in and making meaning out of later Stuart England.
opportunist Edmund Waller readily suggest – accounts of seventeenth-centuryliterature continue to be hung (one might say hung up) on oppositional frameworks. 2 It is true that whereas our histories once baldly juxtaposed ‘Puritan and Cavalier’, we now possess more modulated studies, for instance, of ‘the writing of the English republic’ and ‘the writing of royalism’. 3 Drawing their evidence from broadsides, newsbooks, diaries, and correspondence as well as from more traditional literary sources, such projects clearly entail a radically revised notion of ‘literature
cohort of Marvellians have transformed our understanding of the poet and polemicist, and to have read
part iv: afterword
seventeenth-centuryliterature with undergraduates and graduate students
at Washington University over several decades. They have given patient
and generous attention to what must have seemed, at times, a strange and
challenging set of preoccupations. Their energies and intellectual engagement, their conversation and their writings – their companionship – have
made our common enterprise wonderfully rewarding.
. While this means she bore the blame for the
postlapsarian condition, this also made her, as Elizabeth Hodgson
shows in ‘A “Paraditian Creature”: Eve and her
unsuspecting garden in seventeenth-centuryliterature’, a more
interesting character for early modern writers of both sexes, a
figure in whom they seem much more invested than her allegedly less
sinning husband. Hodgson
Discovering biblical women in early modern literary culture, 1550–1700
Victoria Brownlee and Laura Gallagher
York : Columbia University
J.A. ( 1975 ) Typology and Seventeenth-CenturyLiterature . Paris : Mouton .
T. ( 1578 ) The
commody of the moste vertuous and godlye Susanna . London : Hugh
B.A. ( 1982 ) The
Milton, John Bunyan, Francis
Bacon, or Thomas Browne, thus reaffirming the existing canon.5
The impressively comprehensive The Seventeenth-CenturyLiterature
Handbook (2010) also does not include prose fiction in its discussion of
the major genres and movements of the century.6 Even more remarkably, the book’s section on ‘Key Critical Concepts and Topics’ avoids
mention of prose fiction, concentrating instead on drama and poetry.
Yet the book’s discussion of ‘Changes in the Canon’ describes three
areas of critical interest: looking at neglected works by established
Interview with Steven Millhauser’, Transatlantica
1 ( http://transatlantica.revues.org/5302 ).
Fish, S. (1972), Self-Consuming
Artifacts: the Experience of Seventeenth-CenturyLiterature , Berkeley: University of California Press
readers of Marvell, and indeed of seventeenth-century literary
culture more broadly, Steven Zwicker. All of the pieces that follow are
influenced by Zwicker’s invigorating and career-long attention to refining
and redefining the precise historical circumstances out of and into which
seventeenth-centuryliterature has been produced.10 His work on John
Dryden and Andrew Marvell, among others, consistently reveals a remarkable sensitivity to the variety of ideological registers in play at a given
moment, to the specific ways in which authors activated and manipulated
stark, and certainly gestures have been made to complicate the well-worn dichotomies between sixteenth- and seventeenth-centuryliterature and history. 31 Studies in early modern English literature have produced unusual and illuminating pairings between major authors: Shakespeare and Spenser, Shakespeare and Donne, Milton and Donne, and even Spenser and Jonson. 32 Likewise encouraging are recent re-evaluations of Spenser and Donne individually that question the standard view of each author 33 and fresh, unconventional pairings of their works in article
childhood in his poetry. See, for example, Leah Sinanoglou Marcus, Childhood and Cultural Despair: A Theme and Variations in Seventeenth-CenturyLiterature (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1978) and Edmund Newey, ‘“God made man greater when he made him less”: Traherne's iconic child’, Literature & Theology 24 (2010), 227–41.
This and all subsequent quotations of Traherne's poetry are taken from Jan Ross (ed.), The