1st Edition

Freedom and Censorship in Early Modern English Literature

Edited By Sophie Chiari Copyright 2019
    252 Pages
    by Routledge

    252 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Broadening the notion of censorship, this volume explores the transformative role played by early modern censors in the fashioning of a distinct English literature in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In early modern England, the Privy Council, the Bishop of London and the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Stationers’ Company, and the Master of the Revels each dealt with their own prerogatives and implemented different forms of censorship, with the result that authors penning both plays and satires had to juggle with various authorities and unequal degrees of freedom from one sector to the other. Text and press control thus did not give way to systematic intervention but to particular responses adapted to specific texts in a specific time. 

     If the restrictions imposed by regulation practices are duly acknowledged in this edited collection, the different contributors are also keen to enhance the positive impact of censorship on early modern literature. The most difficult task consists in finding the exact moment when the balance tips in favour of creativity, and the zone where, in matters of artistic freedom, the disadvantages outweigh the benefits. This is what the twelve chapters of the volume proceed to do. Thanks to a wide variety of examples, they show that, in the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras, regulations seldom prevented writers to make themselves heard, albeit through indirect channels. By contrast, in the 1630s, the increased supremacy of the Church seemed to tip the balance the other way.


    Table of illustrations

    Textual Note

    Notes on Contributors

    General Introduction:‘"To be seen and allowed": Early Modern Regulation Practices’

      1. ‘An Incident in the History of English Book Burning’

      2. 'Satire, Immoderation and the Bishops’ Ban of 1599’

      3. ‘"I like not this": Censorship, Self-Censorship and Collaboration in Early Modern Dramatic Manuscripts’

      4. ‘The Limits of a Censor’s Authority: The Case of the Masters of the Revels’

      5. ‘Revisiting an Old Controversy: Censorship in Doctor Faustus

      6. ‘"An you talk in blank verse": the Poetics of Liberty in As You Like It

      7. ‘The Malcontent’s Fool, Censorship, and the Construction of the Subject’

      8. ‘"Let him speak no more": Trust, Censorship, and Early Modern Anti-Confession’

      9. 'What Florio did not Translate: the Return of the Repressed in the English Rendering of Montaigne’s Essays

      10. ‘Spenser’s Strategies of Indirect Representation in The Faerie Queene (1590)’

      11. ‘(Self-)Censorship in Lady Mary Wroth’s The Countess of Montgomery’s Urania (1621-1630)’

      12. ‘"No cloudy stuff to puzzle the brain": ‘Fair Editing’ and Censorship in John Benson’s Edition of Shakespeare’s Poems (1640)’

      Coda:‘Early Modern English Censorship in European Context’

    General Bibliography



    Sophie Chiari is Professor of early modern English Literature at Université Clermont Auvergne, France. She is the author of Shakespeare’s Representations of Climate, Weather and Environment: The Early Modern ‘Fated Sky’ (Edinburgh University Press, 2018); As You Like It: Shakespeare’s Comedy of Liberty (Paris, Presses Universitaires de France, 2016); Love’s Labour’s Lost: Shakespeare’s Anatomy of Wit (Paris, Presses Universitaires de France, 2014). She has also edited or co-edited several collections of essays such as Spectacular Science, Technology and Superstition in the Age of Shakespeare, Edinburgh University Press, 2017 (with Mickaël Popelard); and The Circulation of Knowledge in Early Modern English Literature, Ashgate, 2015. She is currently co-editing with John Mucciolo a volume on early modern court performances.