Poetry and the Realm of Politics: Shakespeare to Dryden

Hardcover | May 1, 1990

byHoward Erskine-Hill

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This is a major study of the relation between poetry and politcs in sixteenth and seventeenth century English literature, focusing in particular on the works of Spenser, Shakespeare, Jonson, Milton, and Dryden. Howard Erskine-Hill argues that the major tradition of political allusion is not, as has often been argued, that of the political allegory of Dryden's Absalom and Architophel, and other overtly political poems, but rather a more shifting and less systematic practice, often involving equivocal ormultiple reference. Drawing on the revisionist trend in recent historiography, and taking issue with recent New Historicist criticism, the book offers new and thought-provoking readings of familiar texts. For example, Shakespeare's Histories, far from endorsing a conservative Tudor myth, are shownto examine and reject divine-right kingship in favour of a political vision of what the succession crisis of the 1590s required. A forgotten political aspect of Hamlet is restored and an anti-Cromwellian strain is identified in Milton's Paradise Lost. Again and again, Professor Erskine-Hill isable to show how some of the most powerful works of the period, works which in the past have been read for their aesthetic achievement and generalized wisdom, in fact contain a political component crucial to our understanding of the poem.

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This is a major study of the relation between poetry and politcs in sixteenth and seventeenth century English literature, focusing in particular on the works of Spenser, Shakespeare, Jonson, Milton, and Dryden. Howard Erskine-Hill argues that the major tradition of political allusion is not, as has often been argued, that of the polit...

Howard Erskine-Hill is at University of Cambridge.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:298 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 0.87 inPublished:May 1, 1990Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198117310

ISBN - 13:9780198117315

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`a brief summary can give little sense of the subtlety, intricacy, and resourcefulness of Professor Erskine-Hill's account of particular works, of the eloquence and scrupulousness of his writing, or of the learning and intellectual seriousness which is evident on every page of thisdistinguished and important book ... this is a book which no one seriously interested in the literature or politics of seventeenth-century England can afford to ignore ... its author's commitment to historical contextualization is inseparable from his passionate concern with the imaginative richnessand artistic value of the works which are his subject.'David Hopkins, University of Bristol, Notes and Queries, Vol. 44, No. 3, September 1997