Humanism, Reading, and English Literature 1430-1530

Hardcover | June 28, 2007

byDaniel Wakelin

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Humanism is usually thought to come to England in the early sixteenth century. In this book, however, Daniel Wakelin uncovers the almost unknown influences of humanism on English literature in the preceding hundred years. He considers the humanist influences on the reception of some ofChaucer's work and on the work of important authors such as Lydgate, Bokenham, Caxton, and Medwall, and in many anonymous or forgotten translations, political treatises, and documents from the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. At the heart of his study is a consideration of William Worcester,the fifteenth-century scholar. Wakelin can trace the influence of humanism much earlier than was thought, because he examines evidence in manuscripts and early printed books of the English study and imitation of antiquity, in polemical marginalia on classical works, and in the ways in which people copied and shared classicalworks and translations. He also examines how various English works were shaped by such reading habits and, in turn, how those English works reshaped the reading habits of the wider community. Humanism thus, contrary to recent strictures against it, appears not as 'top-down' dissemination, but as apractical process of give-and-take between writers and readers. Humanism thus also prompts writers to imagine their potential readerships in ways which challenge them to re-imagine the political community and the intellectual freedom of the reader. Our views both of the fifteenth century and ofhumanist literature in English are transformed.

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From the Publisher

Humanism is usually thought to come to England in the early sixteenth century. In this book, however, Daniel Wakelin uncovers the almost unknown influences of humanism on English literature in the preceding hundred years. He considers the humanist influences on the reception of some ofChaucer's work and on the work of important authors...

Daniel Wakelin is a Lecturer in English, University of Cambridge, and Fellow, Christ's College, Cambridge.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:272 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.79 inPublished:June 28, 2007Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:019921588X

ISBN - 13:9780199215881

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction: humanism as reading2. Duke Humfrey and other imaginary readers3. Allusion, translation and mistranslation4. William Worcester and the commonweal of readers5. Print and the reproduction of humanist readers6. Eloquence, reason and debate7. Some Tudor readers and their freedom

Editorial Reviews

"Wakelin is clearly a gifted and original scholar. This is a substantial and original book, one that makes a valuable contributoin to the study of early English humanism."--A.S.G. Edwards, Speculum "Wakelin restores interest in an unusual list of English writers and illuminates an important but little-known period in the history of humanism. He uncovers a pervasive, vernacular humanist activity in England that differs from both earlier and later Latinate-humanist engagements with antiquity.... This book posits continuity between medieval and Renaissance humanisms, and the nuanced local readings adjust what we mean by both 'humanism' and 'Renaissance.'"--A.E.B. Coldiron, Renaissance Quarterly