Discourses of Martyrdom in English Literature, 1563-1694

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Cambridge University Press, Aug 26, 1993 - Literary Criticism - 278 pages
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Representations of persecution and martyrdom in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England helped shape a lasting ideal of Protestant heroism. This book shows how Protestant writers tried to recreate a drama of suffering learned from the Bible and from accounts of the primitive Church. It examines John Foxe's Acts and Monuments (the Book of Martyrs), second only to the Bible in importance for English Protestants of the period, revealing the subversive potential of the work by exploring how it furnished a discourse of martyrdom for those wishing to resist the authority of the Church. Professor Knott also traces Milton's complex negotiations with Foxe and ideas of martyrdom, and engages with the work of the Elizabethan Separatists, William Prynne, John Bunyan, the Quaker leader George Fox, and the hymn-writer Isaac Watts. This is an extensive treatment of the literature of persecution in Renaissance England.

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