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The rites of knighthood : the literature and politics of Elizabethan chivalry /
Richard C. McCoy.
Berkeley : University of California Press, c1989.
xii, 196 p. : ill. ; 22 cm. --
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series title
Berkeley : University of California Press, c1989.
general note
Includes index.
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references (p. 163-188).
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1990-06:
This is a worthy addition to the series "The New Historicism: Studies in Cultural Poetics," ed. by Stephen Greenblatt. McCoy rehearses this now familiar methodology in his first chapters. The "rites of knighthood" are social texts through which the nobility expressed its power in ceremonies calculated to balance aggressivity and obedience to the monarch. The "rites" also served to push political "rights": McCoy argues interestingly for a continuous tradition of political thought reserving a powerful role for the nobility, which runs from medieval constitutionalism to 17th-century parliamentarianism, passing through Leicester, Sidney, and Essex. These three figures are the subjects of the strong central chapters of the book, which combine considerable archival research and sophisticated cultural interpretation. A chapter on the unhappiness of Samuel Daniel complements the final argument that Spenser's Faerie Queene represents an effective mediation of the contradictions of Elizabethan chivalry through his affirmation of militant discord and--simultaneously--his work's imaginative distance from topical controversy. Written with considerable economy and elegance, the book is appropriate for undergraduate and graduate students. -J. Haynes, Bennington College
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, June 1990
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