John Kerrigan is one of the foremost critics of English literature. This richly informed collection brings together his essays on such major figures as Sir Philip Sidney and Milton, but also less celebrated writers, including Thomas Carew and - in a new piece - William Drummond, to reconfigurethe familiar and help extend the canon. Shakespeare looms large; his plays and poems, and his influence on Keats, are the subject of half the book. But themes and issues are pursued from the 1580s to the late Restoration. Kerriganacutely reassesses the nature of early modern texts-their production and reconstruction by writers, printers, theatre companies, and readers-and their relationship with socio-political circumstance. This original and eloquent book shows what criticism can do when closely engaged with verbal fabric and form. Always alert to the scholarly and theoretical debates that have raged within literary studies, it concentrates on drawing out the distinctive qualities of poems and plays.