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Reading Class through Shakespeare, Donne, and Milton


  • Date Published: October 2017
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107681125

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About the Authors
  • Why study Renaissance literature? Reading Class through Shakespeare, Donne, and Milton examines six canonical Renaissance works to show that reading literature also means reading class. Warley demonstrates that careful reading offers the best way to understand social relations and in doing so he offers a detailed historical argument about what class means in the seventeenth century. Drawing on a wide range of critics, from Erich Auerbach to Jacques Rancière, from Cleanth Brooks to Theodor Adorno, and from Raymond Williams to Jacques Derrida, the book implicitly defends literary criticism. It reaffirms six Renaissance poems and plays, including poems by Donne, Shakespeare's Hamlet, and Milton's Paradise Lost, as the sophisticated and moving works of art that generations of readers have loved. These accessible interpretations also offer exciting new directions for the roles of art and criticism in the contemporary, post-industrial world.

    • Includes clear analyses of six canonical poems, including Paradise Lost and A Lover's Complaint, helping readers understand these difficult works
    • Presents a new theoretical account of class, conveyed in clear language using concrete examples
    • Provides a defence of literary criticism and the study of Renaissance literature
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    Reviews & endorsements

    '… sensitive and magisterial at the same time, braided with past scholarship and yet original, it gives me a shiver when I absorb Warley's unselfconscious claims for the power of literature.' Roland Greene, Studies in English Literature 1500–1900

    'Working through this superb monograph, one has the impression of being in the classroom before a deeply skilled teacher of literary history and criticism. Chapter by chapter Warley does what such teachers do best: he leads us with efficiency and grace to what is central in a selection of texts … the book's intellectual demands and critical insights are consistently illuminating.' Jeffrey Todd Knight, Modern Language Quarterly

    'I am full of admiration for the project of this highly intelligent book. Warley reads class in the fabric of the texts, not outside them or in parallel, nonfictional genres. The works themselves are bearers of history and participate in the definitions and redefinitions that both mark and make change … This is in every respect a book to reckon with.' Catherine Belsey, Renaissance Quarterly

    'How do I love this project? Let me count the ways … Warley has produced an important book, one well worth thinking about, whatever your theoretical or critical investments.' Crystal Bartolovitch, Shakespeare Studies

    'Warley provides a rare example of how rich and challenging the language of class can be in renaissance texts.' Joel Swann, Studies in Theatre and Performance

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    Product details

    • Date Published: October 2017
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107681125
    • length: 219 pages
    • dimensions: 230 x 152 x 11 mm
    • weight: 0.33kg
    • contains: 2 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Of the fickle inequality that is between us
    2. The fickle fee-simple
    3. Just Horatio
    4. Ideal Donne
    5. Virtuoso Donne
    6. Uncouth Milton, part one
    7. Uncouth Milton, part two.

  • Author

    Christopher Warley, University of Toronto
    Christopher Warley teaches Renaissance literature, literary criticism and critical theory at the University of Toronto. He is the author of Sonnet Sequences and Social Distinction in Renaissance England (Cambridge, 2005).

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