Literature in Protestant England, 1560-1660 (Routledge Revivals)

By Alan Sinfield

© 1983 – Routledge

160 pages

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Paperback: 9780415559973
pub: 2009-11-11
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Hardback: 9780415552905
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About the Book

The hardline, uncompromising theology preached by the English Church in the 16th and 17th Centuries had disturbing effects on the literature of the period. This study, originally published in 1983, assesses the importance of the prevailing religious climate to the work of several major writers, both in and out of sympathy with the contemporary protestantism. It is argued that the accepted view of the period as essentially 'Christian-Humanist' obscures the harsher aspects of a Calvinism which throws into relief the agonies of a writer like Donne, the acceptances of one like George Herbert.

Many writers rejected more or less explicitly the Christian dogma, through the heroic assertion of human potential in Shakespearean and other dramatic characters, the nihilism of Marlowe, or the secular rationalism of Bacon and Hobbes. Milton is central to this complex weft of belief and rejection, piety and atheism, acceptance of predestination and determination to accept fate, that characterises the period.

Finally, Sinfield shows how this protestantism disintegrated under the strain of internal contradictions and external pressures, and in the process helped to stimulate secularism. In this original and clearly written book, scholarship is deployed unobstrusively to place many major works in an unaccustomed and stimulating perspective.

Reviews

'This is unquestionably the best and most readale acount of the subject' - Sidney Newsletter

'This is a commendably lucid, concise, and provocative study' - The Year's Work in English Studies: Volume 64, 1983

'The value of this interesting book lies in its challenge to the great flowering of the Elizabethan literature somehow humanistically escaped from the grim religious background' - The Tablet

Table of Contents

1. Theoretical Perspectives 2. Protestantism: A Belief of Contradictories 3. Puritan Humanists 4. Who Bids Abstain? 5. Heroic Assertion 6. Providence and Tragedy 7. The Reformation and Secular Society

About the Series

Routledge Revivals

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Drawing from over 100 years of innovative, cutting-edge, publishing Routledge Revivals is an exciting new programme whereby key titles from the distinguished and extensive backlist of the many acclaimed imprints associated with Routledge will be re-issued.

The programme draws upon the illustrious backlists of Kegan Paul, Trench & Trubner, Routledge & Kegan Paul, Methuen, Allen & Unwin and Routledge itself.

Routledge Revivals spans the whole of the Humanities and Social Sciences, and includes works by some of the world’s greatest thinkers including Emile Durkheim, Max Weber, Simone Weil, Martin Buber, Karl Jaspers and Max Beloff.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOC000000
SOCIAL SCIENCE / General