Civil idolatry : desacralizing and monarchy in Spenser, Shakespeare, and Milton /
Richard F. Hardin.
Newark, Del. : University of Delaware Press ; Cranbury NJ ; London : Associated University Presses, 1992.
267 p. ; 25 cm.
0874134269 (alk. paper)
More Details
Newark, Del. : University of Delaware Press ; Cranbury NJ ; London : Associated University Presses, 1992.
0874134269 (alk. paper)
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references (p. 244-262) and index.
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Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1992-11:
Hardin takes his title from Milton, who remarked that the common people are susceptible "to a civil kind of idolatry in idolizing their kings." Hardin sees the regicide Milton as the culmination of a "liberal" or "libertarian" critique of "kingly abuse of the sacral." This critique, rooted in Old and New Testaments and early Christianity, Hardin explores (after a quick review of the tyrants in medieval English mystery plays) in a range of authors of the 16th and 17th centuries. Hardin finds in Erasmus the model of a virtuous and pacific Christian king a model Shakespeare exemplifies in the hero of Henry V and inverts in Julius Caesar. Spenser is read as an advocate of a revived aristocracy: The Faerie Queene, for all its celebration of Elizabeth, "aims to put the knights back on the road and liberate the melancholy barons." And the hell in Milton's Paradise Lost is viewed as an embodiment of all the awful idolatries that monarchy is heir to. There is much to argue with in this book, and much to learn from, for readers beginning and advanced. Rich notes. Recommended for academic collections. E. D. Hill; Mount Holyoke College
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Choice, November 1992
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Unpaid Annotation
This work discusses important texts that scrutinize the cult of monarchy in light of the injunction against idolatry. When Milton deplored the "civil kind of idolatry, " he echoed a significant theme in earlier texts -- Erasmus's political writings, Spenser, and Shakespeare's political plays. Milton redefines conquest and fatherhood in response to contemporary monarchists' patriarchalism and conquest-theory.
Table of Contents
Abbreviationsp. 7
Prefacep. 9
Introduction: Religion and Rulep. 15
King of This Worldp. 41
Erasmus: Christian Liberty and Renaissance Majestyp. 62
Spenser: Anatomy of Tyrannyp. 91
Shakespeare: Liberty and Idol Ceremonyp. 124
Milton and Civil Idolatryp. 164
Epilogue: No Ceremony No Bishop, No Bishop No Kingp. 202
Notesp. 208
Bibliographyp. 244
Indexp. 263
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

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