Catalogue

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Criticism and compliment : the politics of literature in the England of Charles I /
Kevin Sharpe.
imprint
Cambridge [Cambridgeshire] ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 1987.
description
xiii, 309 p. : ill. ; 24 cm. --
ISBN
0521342392
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Cambridge [Cambridgeshire] ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 1987.
isbn
0521342392
catalogue key
1990083
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Awards
This item was nominated for the following awards:
Whitfield Prize, GBR, 1987 : Won
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1988-09:
Sharpe attempts a revaluation of Cavalier culture by arguing that William Davenant, Thomas Carew, and Aurelian Townshend were not, after all, trivial sycophants but--as Stephen Orgel and others argue about Jonson--managed to criticize as they complimented, even in their court masques. The author is most interesting and convincing when he touches on the internal politics of the court, linking the three poets with opposition voices in the Queen's household, and showing they resisted the royally sponsored cult of Platonic love (which had ethical and political corollaries) with an Aristotelian ideal of harmony between body and soul, king and people, exemplified in the royal marriage. But Sharpe operates with almost no sense of literary history, and the political and historical context is strangely circumscribed. He begins the book by denying the idea that there were opposed court and country cultures, assimilating both to the values of mainstream humanism; and he admonishes us not to interpret Caroline culture from the perspective of the coming Revolution. We are left with one unperiodized culture (the court), and in this void Sharpe solemnly and tirelessly expounds the lofty ideals of his syphilitic poets, as if claims for their moral seriousness answered all questions. There are some things of value in this book, but its methodology is unsophisticated, its positions unperspicacious, and it is not very well written. Better recent challenges to conventional wisdom about Puritans and Cavaliers are M. Heinemann's Puritanism and Theatre (CH, Sep '80) and M. Butler's Theatre and Crisis, 1632-1642 (CH, Apr '85). -J. Haynes, Bennington College
Reviews
Review Quotes
'... a masterly study, one which opens up new perspectives on politics, literature, and kingship in early modern England.' English Historical Review
'… a masterly study, one which opens up new perspectives on politics, literature, and kingship in early modern England.'English Historical Review
'… a masterly study, one which opens up new perspectives on politics, literature, and kingship in early modern England.' The English Historical Review
'An illuminating study of Caroline court culture that provocatively challenges received ideas about the relationship of culture to politics in early Stuart England ... His sophisticated and intelligent discussion of the Caroline masques is probably the best essay yet produced on the topic ... Sharpe's book ... is also written with enviable boldness and clarity. No student of Stuart literature or politics can afford to neglect it.' Modern Europe
'Sharpe's book, as might be expected of this lively, hard-hitting author, is provocative and challenging ... Sharpe's exciting and innovative book can be warmly recommended to those interested in the re-mapping of the familiar territory of early Stuart political history.' The Historian
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, September 1988
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Summaries
Description for Bookstore
Criticism and Compliment examines the poems, plays and masques of the three figures who succeeded Ben Jonson as authors of court entertainments in the England of Charles I. The courtly literature of Caroline England has been dismissed by critics and characterised by historians as propaganda for Charles I's absolutism penned by sycophantic hirelings.
Description for Library
Criticism and Compliment examines the poems, plays and masques of the three figures who succeeded Ben Jonson as authors of court entertainments in the England of Charles I. The courtly literature of Caroline England has been dismissed by critics and characterised by historians as propaganda for Charles I's absolutism penned by sycophantic hirelings. Kevin Sharpe questions the assumptions on which these evaluations have been based.
Main Description
Criticism and Compliment examines the poems, plays and masques of the three figures who succeeded Ben Jonson as authors of court entertainments in the England of Charles I. The courtly literature of Caroline England has been dismissed by critics and characterised by historians as propaganda for Charles I's absolutism penned by sycophantic hirelings. Kevin Sharpe questions the assumptions on which these evaluations have been based. Challenging the traditional argument for a polarity between court and country cultures in early Stuart England, he re-reads the plays, poems and masques as primary documents of political attitudes articulated at court. Far from being confined to a decade or a party, the courtly literature of the 1630s is relocated within the broader humanist tradition of counsel. Through the language of love - a language, it is argued, that was part of the discourse of politics in Caroline England - the court poets criticised fundamental premises of the King's political ideology, and counselled traditional and moderate modes of government.
Table of Contents
List of illustrations
Preface and acknowledgements
List of abbreviations
Culture and politics, court and country: assumptions and problems, questions and suggestions
Sir William Davenant and the drama of love and passion
Thomas Carew and the poetry of love and nature
Aurelian Townshend and the poetry of natural innocence
The Caroline court masque
Criticism and compliment: the politics of love
Index
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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