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"This collection of early modern writing related to the bubonic plague includes remedies, literature, orders, prayers, and a bill -- each modernized and annotated with two accompanying glossaries, one general and one for medical and herbal terms; the author's commentary highlights the cultural significance of plague references in various early modern literature"--Provided by publisher.
This is an invaluable and beautifully edited archive of the key materials for the cultural study of epidemic disease in the English Renaissance, a work relevant both for students of the history of the plague and for everyone interested in how our ancestors responded to what for them was the terrible reality, but more than likely for us, a looming threat.
Ernest B. Gilman, author of _Plague Writing in Early Modern England_.
Although we are currently bombarded with numerous health scares - AIDS, West Nile virus, avian flu, and the recent swine flu, just to name a few that now fill our media reports and instill dread in the population - we can scarcely imagine the outlook that dominated the mindset of those who endured the bubonic plague in England during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Between the time of the Black Death and the Great Plague, this horrifying bubonic plague struck the country at such regular intervals that it shaped the general consciousness and even produced a popular genre of plague writing. In this book, Rebecca Totaro takes the reader into the world of plague-riddled Elizabethan England, documenting the development of distinct sub-genres related to the plague and providing unprecedented access to important original sources of early modern plague writing. Totaro elucidates the interdisciplinary nature of plague writing, which raises religious, medical, civic, social, and individual concerns in early modern England. Each of the primary texts in the collection offers a glimpse into a particular sub-genre of plague writing, beginning with Thomas Moulton's plague remedy and prayers published by the Church of England and devoted to the issue of the plague. William Bullein's A Dialogue both pleasant and pietyful, a work that both addresses concerns related to the plague and offers humorous literary entertainment, exemplifies the multi-layered nature of plague literature. The plague orders of Queen Elizabeth I highlight the community-wide attempts to combat the plague and deal with its manifold dilemmas. And after a plague bill from the Corporation of London, the collection ends with Thomas Dekker's The Wonderful Year, which illustrates plague literature as it was fully formed, combining attitudes toward the plague from both the Eizabethan and Stuart periods. These writings offer a vivid picture of important themes particular to plague literature in England, providing valuable insight into the beliefs and fears of those who suffered through bubonic plague but also illuminating the cultural significance of references to the plague in the more familiar early modern literature by Spenser, Donne, Milton, Shakespeare, and others. As a result, this book will be of interest to students and scholars in a number of fields, including sixteenth and seventeenth century English literature, cultural studies, medical humanities, and the history of medicine.