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Reprobates: The Cavaliers of the English Civil War
     

Reprobates: The Cavaliers of the English Civil War

by John Stubbs
 

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“Stubbs [has] a storyteller’s gift for atmosphere and drama.”—Wall Street JournalFrom disastrous foreign forays to syphilitic poets, from political intrigues to ambitious young playwrights keen to curry favor with the king, John Stubbs brings alive the vibrant cast of characters that was at the center of the English Civil War.In Reprobates, the

Overview

“Stubbs [has] a storyteller’s gift for atmosphere and drama.”—Wall Street JournalFrom disastrous foreign forays to syphilitic poets, from political intrigues to ambitious young playwrights keen to curry favor with the king, John Stubbs brings alive the vibrant cast of characters that was at the center of the English Civil War.In Reprobates, the acclaimed biographer John Stubbs finds his new subject in England’s turbulent decades of the mid-seventeenth century. With conflict between the monarchy and Parliament threatening to explode, a group of courtiers and army officers known as the Cavaliers emerged to defend the king. They were jeeringly labeled “Cavaliers”—then a term for a gallant or a rogue—by their opponents on the streets of London. Their movement was soon memorialized by poets such as Robert Herrick, whose poem “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time”—which begins, “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may”—later became a carpe diem anthem for their lost cause. Often imagined as elegant gentlemen, chivalrous and dandified, the Cavaliers were also originally to be found in the form of the gambler and poet Sir John Suckling or his syphilitic friend William Davenant.Stubbs sheds new 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.

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.)

Product Details

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

Meet the Author

John Stubbs studied English at Oxford and Renaissance literature at Cambridge, where he completed a doctorate. John Donne was awarded a Royal Society of Literature Jerwood Award and shortlisted for the Costa Biography Award. Stubbs lives in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

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