Poetry and the Realm of Politics: Shakespeare to Dryden

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This is a major study of the relation between poetry and politics in sixteenth and seventeenth-century English literature, focusing in particular on the works of Spenser, Shakespeare, Jonson, Milton and Dryden. Howard Erskine-Hill argues that the major tradition of political allusion is not, as has often been argued, that of the political allegory of Dryden's Absalom and Architophel, and other overtly political poems, but rather a more shifting and less systematic practice, often involving equivocal or multiple reference. Drawing on the revisionist trend in recent historiography, and taking issue with recent New Historicist criticism, the book offers new and thought-provoking readings of familiar texts. Again and again, Professor Erskine-Hill is able to show how some of the most powerful works of the period, works which in the past have been read for their aesthetic achievement and generalized wisdom, in fact contain a political component crucial to our understanding of the poem.

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List of Illustrations xi
The Political Foreground
The First Tetralogy and King John

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About the author (1996)

Howard Erskine-Hill is at University of Cambridge.

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