A rich account of a group of royalist wits and their reluctant part in a national disaster.
Publishers WeeklyThe 17th-century showdown between Charles I and Parliament is fought as much with rhymes as with muskets in this scintillating literary-historical study of the royalist worldview. Biographer Stubbs (John Donne: The Reformed Soul) profiles a clique of Jacobean writers dubbed Cavaliers for their "reprobate" frivolity, including the wastrel gambler and rake Sir John Suckling; poet laureate William Davenant, who lost his nose to syphilis; and poet Robert Herrick, whose line "Gather ye Rosebuds while ye may" distilled the Cavalier ethos. Their rallying to the king owed much to privilege and patronage, but the author also situates them in a culture war, pitting the pomp, revelry, theater going, witticisms, bawdiness, and light misogyny of the Cavaliers against the austerity, sternness, church-going, sermonizing, primness, and heavy misogyny whose gather-ye-potatoes-and-ammunition mentality won the war. Stubbs entwines an absorbing montage of the era's politics and shooting wars with searching exegeses of the verse, drama, and lavishly symbolic masques through which his protagonists reimagined the upheaval. Blending subtle aesthetics with entertaining picaresque, this is an entrancing, highly original account of Merrye Olde England locked in a losing battle with no-nonsense modernity—and of the compensating rise of a still-potent Cavalier sensibility of joie de vivre, romantic individualism, and pained elegy. (Sept.)
Open Letters Monthly“A work of real energy and strength. . . . Andrew Marvell, John Herrick, John Milton, Inigo Jones, Ben Jonson—all these and many more are given fresh new life in these pages, summarized and appreciated and analyzed with a zest that’s too infectious not to be commended. . . . [T]here isn’t one single page of Reprobates that’s tedious . . . this is most certainly a book to be read and loved by general readers.”
Washington Independent Review of Books“Truly a literary history, one in which Stubbs weaves a grander narrative out of not only events but also the verse and drama that illustrated it. . . . [W]ith his own harmony and delight animating Reprobates, Stubbs is a worthy inheritor to the subjects he so ardently admires.”
- Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
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- Product dimensions:
- 6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.70(d)
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