Reading Memory in Early Modern Literature

Reading Memory in Early Modern Literature

by Andrew Hiscock
     
 

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'He who remembers or recollects, thinks' declared Francis Bacon, drawing attention to the absolute centrality of the question of memory in early modern Britain's cultural life. The vigorous debate surrounding the faculty had dated back to Plato at least. However, responding to the powerful influences of an ever-expanding print culture, humanist scholarship, the

Overview

'He who remembers or recollects, thinks' declared Francis Bacon, drawing attention to the absolute centrality of the question of memory in early modern Britain's cultural life. The vigorous debate surrounding the faculty had dated back to Plato at least. However, responding to the powerful influences of an ever-expanding print culture, humanist scholarship, the veneration for the cultural achievements of antiquity, and sweeping political upheaval and religious schism in Europe, succeeding generations of authors from the reign of Henry VIII to that of James I engaged energetically with the spiritual, political and erotic implications of remembering. Treating the works of a host of different writers from the Earl of Surrey, Katharine Parr and John Foxe, to William Shakespeare, Mary Sidney, Ben Jonson and Francis Bacon, this study explores how the question of memory was intimately linked to the politics of faith, identity and intellectual renewal in Tudor and early Stuart Britain.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Hiscock offers a fascinating account of the nature and uses of individual and cultural memory in the early modern period, and of the ways in which the writers of the period recalled and productively mis-recalled those of the classical and patristic past. What he elegantly demonstrates is that remembering, committing to memory and memorializing were notions – and actions – at the very heart of the fraught processes of identity formation through the course of the long sixteenth century."
-Greg Walker, Regius Professor of Rhetoric and English Literature, University of Edinburgh

"What a splendid book! Andrew Hiscock has produced a study of memory in early modern English literature which will be of real value to students interested in either or both topics. His work shows a formidable grasp of the vast range of theories of memory - some very strange - from Plato and Montaigne to Pierre Nora and Mary Warnock. This knowledge he distils for the rest of us in an introduction of exemplary clarity, but it also elucidates the chapters on major Renaissance authors from the earl of Surrey to Francis Bacon, which scintillate with fresh insights eloquently expressed. Taken together, and in order, these individual studies also present a compelling narrative of the ways in which older traditions of memory - and also poetry - gradually give way to newer ideas and idioms, so that the book as a whole provides a carefully composed of clearly focused literary-critical snapshots of an age in transition."
-Mike Pincombe, Professor of Tudor and Elizabethan Literature, Newcastle University

"Accordingly then, each chapter deftly concludes by examining how the writer under investigation is remembered— both in his or her own time and today. This through-thread, consistent with the masterful arrangement of the book as a whole (with its periodic glances backward and ahead to related material in other sections), makes it a delight to read. Reading Memory is a most welcome addition to the increasing number of books addressing literary aspects of early modern memory."
--Renaissance Quarterly

"Reading Memory is exhaustively researched and filled with remarkable insights."
--The Review of English Studies

"This meticulous, cutting-edge work brings new light to the study of memory in early modern literature."
--Journal

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780521761215
Publisher:
Cambridge University Press
Publication date:
10/13/2011
Pages:
332
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

Andrew Hiscock is Professor of English at Bangor University, Wales. He teaches and publishes widely on early modern literature in British and European contexts. His earlier monographs include Authority and Desire: Crises of Interpretation in Shakespeare and Racine (1996) and The Uses of this World: Thinking Space in Shakespeare, Marlowe, Cary and Jonson (2004). He edited the 2008 Yearbook of English Studies devoted to Tudor literature and his edited critical collection Middleton: Women Beware Women appeared in 2011. He is co-editor of the academic journal English and is about to take up his role as editor (English Literature) of the Modern Language Review and as series editor for the Yearbook of English Studies.

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