Normal view MARC view ISBD view

Excess and the Mean in Early Modern English Literature.

By: Scodel, Joshua.
Material type: TextTextSeries: eBooks on Demand.Literature in History: Publisher: Princeton : Princeton University Press, 2009Description: 1 online resource (375 p.).ISBN: 9781400824939.Subject(s): Didactic literature, English -- History and criticism | English literature -- Classical influences | English literature -- Early modern, 1500-1700 -- History and criticism | Ethics in literature | Literature and society -- England -- History -- 16th century | Literature and society -- England -- History -- 17th century | Moderation in literature | Polarity in literature | Temperance in literatureGenre/Form: Electronic books.Additional physical formats: Print version:: Excess and the Mean in Early Modern English LiteratureDDC classification: 820.9003 LOC classification: PR428.M63 S36 2001Online resources: Click here to view this ebook.
Contents:
Contents; Acknowledgments and Note on Citations; Introduction: Ancient Paradigms in Modern Conflicts; PART ONE: Two Early Modern Revisions of the Mean; PART TWO: Means and Extremes in Early Modern Georgic; PART THREE: Erotic Excess and Early Modern Social Conflicts; PART FOUR: Moderation and Excess in the Seventeenth-Century Symposiastic Lyric; PART FIVE: Reimagining Moderation: The Miltonic Example; Postscript: Sublime Excess, Dull Moderation, and Contemporary Ambivalence; Notes; Index
Summary: This book examines how English writers from the Elizabethan period to the Restoration transformed and contested the ancient ideal of the virtuous mean. As early modern authors learned at grammar school and university, Aristotle and other classical thinkers praised "golden means" balanced between extremes: courage, for example, as opposed to cowardice or recklessness. By uncovering the enormous variety of English responses to this ethical doctrine, Joshua Scodel revises our understanding of the vital interaction between classical thought and early modern literary culture. Scodel argues that English authors used the ancient schema of means and extremes in innovative and contentious ways hitherto ignored by scholars. Through close readings of diverse writers and genres, he shows that conflicting representations of means and extremes figured prominently in the emergence of a self-consciously modern English culture. Donne, for example, reshaped the classical mean to promote individual freedom, while Bacon held extremism necessary for human empowerment. Imagining a modern rival to ancient Rome, georgics from Spenser to Cowley exhorted England to embody the mean or lauded extreme paths to national greatness. Drinking poetry from Jonson to Rochester expressed opposing visions of convivial moderation and drunken excess, while erotic writing from Sidney to Dryden and Behn pitted extreme passion against the traditional mean of conjugal moderation. Challenging his predecessors in various genres, Milton celebrated golden means of restrained pleasure and self-respect. Throughout this groundbreaking study, Scodel suggests how early modern treatments of means and extremes resonate in present-day cultural debates.
Tags from this library: No tags from this library for this title. Log in to add tags.
Item type Current location Call number URL Status Date due Barcode
Electronic Book UT Tyler Online
Online
PR428.M63 S36 2001 (Browse shelf) http://uttyler.eblib.com/patron/FullRecord.aspx?p=457905 Available EBL457905

Contents; Acknowledgments and Note on Citations; Introduction: Ancient Paradigms in Modern Conflicts; PART ONE: Two Early Modern Revisions of the Mean; PART TWO: Means and Extremes in Early Modern Georgic; PART THREE: Erotic Excess and Early Modern Social Conflicts; PART FOUR: Moderation and Excess in the Seventeenth-Century Symposiastic Lyric; PART FIVE: Reimagining Moderation: The Miltonic Example; Postscript: Sublime Excess, Dull Moderation, and Contemporary Ambivalence; Notes; Index

This book examines how English writers from the Elizabethan period to the Restoration transformed and contested the ancient ideal of the virtuous mean. As early modern authors learned at grammar school and university, Aristotle and other classical thinkers praised "golden means" balanced between extremes: courage, for example, as opposed to cowardice or recklessness. By uncovering the enormous variety of English responses to this ethical doctrine, Joshua Scodel revises our understanding of the vital interaction between classical thought and early modern literary culture. Scodel argues that English authors used the ancient schema of means and extremes in innovative and contentious ways hitherto ignored by scholars. Through close readings of diverse writers and genres, he shows that conflicting representations of means and extremes figured prominently in the emergence of a self-consciously modern English culture. Donne, for example, reshaped the classical mean to promote individual freedom, while Bacon held extremism necessary for human empowerment. Imagining a modern rival to ancient Rome, georgics from Spenser to Cowley exhorted England to embody the mean or lauded extreme paths to national greatness. Drinking poetry from Jonson to Rochester expressed opposing visions of convivial moderation and drunken excess, while erotic writing from Sidney to Dryden and Behn pitted extreme passion against the traditional mean of conjugal moderation. Challenging his predecessors in various genres, Milton celebrated golden means of restrained pleasure and self-respect. Throughout this groundbreaking study, Scodel suggests how early modern treatments of means and extremes resonate in present-day cultural debates.

Description based upon print version of record.

Reviews provided by Syndetics

CHOICE Review

Like his wide-ranging The English Poetic Epitaph (1991), Scodel's most recent book is a worthy contribution to the ongoing study of the mentality of the early modern period and its relationship to the classical and Christian heritage. Though many scholars have noted the significance of the classical virtue of temperance for the period, Scodel (Univ. of Chicago) is the first to offer a full exploration of the competing understandings of the concept both in classical and early modern times. Although nearly all writers extolled the virtue of the mean, the fuzziness of the term led to divergent views of how the notion might be put into practice. Focusing primarily on the Stuart period, Scodel considers a range of writers, and his close readings of individual texts, fully informed by an understanding of the classical legacy, prove to be very rich. Even such much-discussed works as Donne's "Satire 3," Spenser's Faerie Queene, and Milton's "L'Allegro" and "Il Penseroso" are illuminated by being considered in this context. Scodel finds these poets reinterpreting the classical virtue to fit their own national and personal contexts. A worthy addition to any academic library, this invigorating work will serve upper-division undergraduates and above. J. P. Doelman Brescia College (ON)

Author notes provided by Syndetics

Joshua Scodel is Professor of English, Comparative Literature, and the Humanities at the University of Chicago. He is the author of The English Poetic Epitaph: Commemoration and Conflict from Jonson to Wordsworth and has published numerous articles on various aspects of Renaissance literature.

There are no comments for this item.

Log in to your account to post a comment.