In this new study the authors examine a range of theories about the state of nature in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century England, considering the contribution they made to the period's discourse on sovereignty and their impact on literary activity. Texts examined include Leviathan, Oceana, Paradise Lost, Discourses Concerning Government, Two Treatises on Government, Don Sebastian, Oronooko, The New Atalantis, Robinson Crusoe, Dissertation upon Parties, David Simple, and Tom Jones. The state of nature is identified as an important organizing principle for narratives in the century running from the Civil War through to the second Jacobite Rebellion, and as a way of situating the author within either a reactionary or a radical political tradition. The Discourse of Sovereignty provides an exciting new perspective on the intellectual history of this fascinating period.
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Contents: Preface; Introduction: From revolution to rebellion; Revolution to Republic: Hobbes: absolutism and the state of nature; Harrington: Oceana and the state of nature; Diggers, levellers and ranters: The Bible and the state of nature; Milton and the state of nature; Restoration to Revolution: Locke, Sidney and the Whig state of nature; Neville: The Utopian state of nature revisited; Behn and the paternal state of nature; Dryden: Don Sebastian and the ideal ruler; Post-Restoration and The Hanoverian Settlement: Calvinism and the state of nature: Robinson Crusoe; Manley, Defoe and the politics of self-interest; Bolingbroke: party and the state of nature; Henry and Sarah Fielding: Hobbes restated; Conclusion: the narratives of sovereignty; Bibliography; Index.