The Oxford English Literary History: Volume 2: 1350-1547: Reform and Cultural Revolution

Overview

In this pioneering volume, James Simpson covers broad ground, ranging from the extraordinary burst of English literary writing under the reign of Richard II to the literature of the Reformation. Challenging traditional assumptions, Simpson argues that the stylistic diversity enjoyed by late medieval writers was curtailed by the authoritarian practice of the sixteenth-century cultural revolution. The variety of medieval writing -- Chaucer, Langland, Malory, the 'mystery' plays, feminine visionary writing -- gave ...
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Overview

In this pioneering volume, James Simpson covers broad ground, ranging from the extraordinary burst of English literary writing under the reign of Richard II to the literature of the Reformation. Challenging traditional assumptions, Simpson argues that the stylistic diversity enjoyed by late medieval writers was curtailed by the authoritarian practice of the sixteenth-century cultural revolution. The variety of medieval writing -- Chaucer, Langland, Malory, the 'mystery' plays, feminine visionary writing -- gave place to the brilliant, poignant works of Wyatt and Surrey, for example, who prized coherence and unity. Sixteenth-century English literature emerges as the product of anguished writers, torn between their commitment to the new order and their awareness of its painful, often destructive constraints.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"The new Oxford English Literary History series [is] destined to become a standard academic source.... Advanced undergraduates will join lifelong learners in praising these volumes as sources of renewed and renewable literary energy."--The Providence Journal

"A bold, bravura performance, and an important book.... Simpson can write with equal brilliance across both the secular and the religious.... Simpson writes so well and discriminatingly that Reform and Cultural Revolution is a pleasure to read."--Times Literary Supplement

"Surveys of literary history rarely break new ground.... But the second volume in the successor series to the venerable Oxford History of English Literature will snap some scholarly heads back.... If you think of the English 15th century as a dull slough between brilliant Chaucer and brilliant rebirth, read this book and think again."--Virginia Quarterly Review

"Designed to challenge traditional period designations, this volume is one of the few literary histories that moves from Chaucer and William Langland through the death of Henry VIII. Much is gained in this redrawing of the borders.... The volume, moreover, proves to be one of the most satisfying sustained discussions of the potential liabilities and continuing usefulness of the terms 'medieval' and 'early modern'.... The book includes powerful readings of major and minor figures, and organizes its mass of materials in ways that are at once conceptually meaningful and pragmatically useful."--Studies in English Literature 1500-1900

"The second volume of the Oxford English Literary History brilliantly covers 1350-1547, to the death of Henry VIII. It will be standard."--Bibliothèque d'Humanisme et Renaissance

"[An] excellent and challenging book.... Reform and Cultural Revolution will fundamentally alter our understanding of what distinguishes the two periods [of Medieval and Renaissance]."--Speculum

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199265534
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 5/14/2004
  • Series: Oxford English Literary History Series , #2
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 680
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 5.40 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

James Simpson is Professor of English and American Literature at Harvard University.
Jonathan Bate (General Editor) is King Alfred Professor of English Literature, University of Liverpool. His books include Shakespeare and Ovid, The Genius of Shakespeare, and The Cure for Love.

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Table of Contents

General Editor's Preface ix
List of Figures xiv
Abbreviations xvi
Note on References xviii
Introduction 1
1. The Melancholy of John Leland and the Beginnings of English Literary History 7
2. The Energies of John Lydgate 34
3. The Tragic 68
4. The Elegiac 121
5. The Political 191
6. The Comic 255
7. Edifying the Church 322
8. Moving Images 383
9. The Biblical 458
10. The Dramatic 502
Envoi 558
Regnal Dates 562
Author Bibliographies 563
Suggestions for Further Reading 593
Works Cited 601
Index 651
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