Reprobates: The Cavaliers of the English Civil War

Overview

A rich account of a group of royalist wits and their reluctant part in a national disaster.
In the followup to his "vivid, ardent, and engaging" John Donne: The Reformed Soul (New York Review of Books), John Stubbs finds his next subject in the turbulent period of the English Civil War. With a centuries-old conflict between the monarchy and Parliament threatening to explode, a group of poets known as Cavaliers emerged to defend the king against the Protestant reformers and, in ...
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Reprobates: The Cavaliers of the English Civil War

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Overview

A rich account of a group of royalist wits and their reluctant part in a national disaster.
In the followup to his "vivid, ardent, and engaging" John Donne: The Reformed Soul (New York Review of Books), John Stubbs finds his next subject in the turbulent period of the English Civil War. With a centuries-old conflict between the monarchy and Parliament threatening to explode, a group of poets known as Cavaliers emerged to defend the king against the Protestant reformers and, in doing so, defined an artistic movement exemplified by lines such as Robert Herrick's "Gather ye rosebuds while ye may." Often imagined as elegant gentlemen, chivalrous and dandified, they were just as likely to be found in the form of the degenerate Sir John Suckling or the syphilitic William Davenant.
Biographer Stubbs sheds light on this groundbreaking group of men, on their world and their journeys through it, in peace and war, from the Blackfriars Playhouse to the battlefields of King Charles's kingdoms.
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Editorial Reviews

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.”
Publishers Weekly
The 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.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393344134
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 12/17/2012
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 560
  • Sales rank: 787,163
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

John Stubbs received his PhD in Renaissance literature from Cambridge University. His biography John Donne: The Reformed Soul was shortlisted for the Costa Award and won the Royal Society of Literature Jerwood Award. He lives in Slovenia.
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Table of Contents

Introduction 1

1 Fathers and Sons 17

2 The Quixotic Prince 45

3 The End of Steenie 67

4 Dancing to the Drum 103

5 Backslidings 139

6 Blind Mouths 182

7 The Court and the Covenant 213

8 Northern Discoveries 244

9 Plots and Prodigals 288

10 Incivilities of War 319

11 Sulby Hedge 355

12 Angling for Quiet 393

13 Twigs of Bay 430

14 Aubrey 456

Notes 471

Further Reading 511

Acknowledgements 517

Index 521

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