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Mythologies of the Prophet Muhammad in Early Modern English Culture


  • Date Published: July 2013
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107032910

£ 62.99

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About the Authors
  • The figure of 'Mahomet' was widely known in early modern England. A grotesque version of the Prophet Muhammad, Mahomet was a product of vilification, caricature and misinformation placed at the centre of Christian conceptions of Islam. In Mythologies of the Prophet Muhammad in Early Modern English Culture Matthew Dimmock draws on an eclectic range of early modern sources - literary, historical, visual - to explore the nature and use of Mahomet in a period bounded by the beginnings of print and the early Enlightenment. This fabricated figure and his spurious biography were endlessly recycled, but also challenged and vindicated, and the tales the English told about him offer new perspectives on their sense of the world - its geographies and religions, near and far - and their place within it. This book explores the role played by Mahomet in the making of Englishness, and reflects on what this might reveal about England's present circumstances.

    • Explores constructions of the Prophet Muhammad as 'Mahomet' in Early Modern England, revealing how well-known that figure was to English men and women
    • Draws upon an eclectic range of materials - visual, textual, dramatic - to chart changing conceptions of the figure of 'Mahomet'
    • Offers a prehistory of contemporary controversies surrounding depictions of the Prophet in 'the West'
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Dr Dimmock has broken new ground, not only in his excavation of neglected English sources from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, but also by his close reading of a wider range of writings than has hitherto been assembled in one place … This book furnishes a detailed and vivid sense of the varied ways in which the early modern English constructed and used the person of Mahomet/Muhammad in the articulation of their own identities, world views and notions of self. As such, it provides a suggestive and instructive point of reference and of self-interrogation for any reader inclined to a historically grounded and culturally contextualized understanding of the many and often-fraught ongoing twenty-first-century Western engagements with the Prophet of Islam.' Shahab Ahmed, Harvard University

    '… the book synthesizes and makes accessible a fascinating and important set of texts … a very welcome contribution to the field.' Joel Elliot Slotkin, Modern Philology

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    Product details

    • Date Published: July 2013
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107032910
    • length: 308 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 21 mm
    • weight: 0.62kg
    • contains: 25 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    List of illustrations
    Introduction: fabricating Mahomet
    Part I. 'Well Rehearsed' in 'Books Old': Early Print and the Life of Mahomet:
    1. From Polychronicon to The Golden Legend (and back)
    2. The Fall of Princes
    3. Sir John Mandeville and the Travels
    4. Mahomet and the exclusive polemic
    Part II. Most Like to Mahomet: Religious History and Reformation Mutability:
    5. Preaching equivalence
    6. Painted words: Mahomet in the late sixteenth-century histories
    Part III. Old Mahomet's Head: Idols, Papists and Mortus Ali on the English Stage:
    7. Romance and idolatry
    8. Islamic idols and stage Mahomets
    9. Mahomet, Mortus Ally and the Pope
    Part IV. Bunyan's Dilemma: Seventeenth-Century Imposture, Liberty and True Mahomets:
    10. The fables and the fabler
    11. Imposturae
    12. A stupendous revolution
    Conclusion: Mahomet discovered

  • Author

    Matthew Dimmock, University of Sussex
    Matthew Dimmock is Senior Lecturer in English Literature at the University of Sussex.

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