Reading Revolutions: The Politics of Reading in Early Modern England

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Overview

This fascinating book - the first comprehensive study of reading and politics in early modern England - examines how texts of that period were produced and disseminated and how readers interpreted and were influenced by them. Based on the voluminous reading notes of one gentleman, Sir William Drake, the book shows how readers formed radical social values and political ideas as they experienced civil war, revolution, republic and restoration.

By analysing the strategies of Drake's reading practices, as well as those of several key contemporaries (including Jonson, Milton and Clarendon), Kevin Sharpe demonstrates how reading in the rhetorical culture of Renaissance England was a political act. He explains how Drake, for example, by reading and rereading classical and humanist works of Tacitus, Machiavelli, Guicciardini and Bacon, became the advocate of dissimulation, intrigue and realpolitik. Authority, Sharpe argues, was experienced, reviewed and criticised not only in the public forum but in the study, on the page and in the imagination, of early modern readers.

'Erudite, intelligent and fascinating ... a wonderful study of a subject central to the intellectual and cultural history of early modern England.' Anthony Grafton

Kevin Sharpe was director of the Centre for Renaissance and Early Modern Studies and professor of renaissance studies at Queen Mary, University of London. He is the author of 'The Personal Rule of Charles I', 'Selling the Tudor Monarchy' and 'Image Wars', all published by Yale University Press.

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Editorial Reviews

David Norbrook
[A] remarkable new book...a spirited overview of a huge range range of issues in the study of early modern reading, surveying recent scholarship and proposing new areas that remain to be explored. This is a book that will open many windows.
The Times Literary Supplement
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300187182
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 3/7/2000
  • Pages: 374
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.77 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Preface to the Reader
Acknowledgements
List of Abbreviations
Pt. 1 Learning to Read
1 Reading in Early Modern England 3
Pt. 2 Reading Early Stuart England
2 Reading and Politics in Early Stuart England: The Mental World of Sir William Drake 65
3 Reading and Writing Self and Society: Sir William Drake and the English Civil War 121
App William Drake's Parliamentary Notebook 158
Pt. 3 Reading and Revolution
4 Reading Revolutions 167
App Sir William Drake and The Long Parliament Revived 253
Pt. 4 Reading and Politics
5 The Politics of Reading and the Reading of Politics in Early Modern England 257
Afterword: Possibilities 341
Index 344
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