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The Age of Elizabeth in the Age of Johnson [Paperback]

Jack Lynch

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Book Description

20 May 2010
In The Age of Elizabeth in the Age of Johnson, Jack Lynch explores eighteenth-century British conceptions of the Renaissance, and the historical, intellectual, and cultural uses to which the past was put during the period. Scholars, editors, historians, religious thinkers, linguists and literary critics of the period all defined themselves in relation to 'the last age' or 'the age of Elizabeth'. Seventeenth- and eighteenth-century thinkers reworked older historical schemes to suit their own needs, turning to the ages of Petrarch and Poliziano, Erasmus and Scaliger, Shakespeare, Spenser, and Queen Elizabeth to define their culture in contrast to the preceding age. They derived a powerful sense of modernity from the comparison, which proved essential to the constitution of a national character. This interdisciplinary study will be of interest to cultural as well as literary historians of the eighteenth century.

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Review of the hardback: 'An original and major contribution to the reader's understanding of eighteenth-century cultural identity.' The New Rambler

Book Description

Lynch explores eighteenth-century British conceptions of the Renaissance, and the historical, intellectual, and cultural uses to which the past was put during the period. This interdisciplinary study will be of interest to cultural as well as literary historians of the eighteenth century.

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3 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A well-done professional book 25 Sep 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is a professional book -- a bountiful, busy, burrowing, yet modestly professional book. Every page boasts a Fleknovian progress of worthies from John Aylmer to Thomas Yalden.
Skelton, Marlowe, Elizabeth I, Shakespeare, Dustin Griffin, Milton, Johnson, G. F. Parker, Michael Dobson, Jean Marsden, W. B. C. Watkins, Margreta de Grazia, Rene Wellek, and even great author Routledge, whose Critical Heritage is much lauded, and that's just on the first page.
Lynch does for periods what he does for authors: The Middle Ages, antiquity, modernity, epochs, other ages, present, past, historical periods, historical objectivity both subjective and arbitrary, decades, centuries, millennia, undifferentiated flux, years, days, cultural movements, predecessors, us, them, now, and then. The "ever-new sense of now", "a series of thens", declarations of modernity, Western periodization, Florentine scholars of the fourteenth and fifteenth century, classical and Christian models, six ages, four monarchies, an ancient, a middle and a modern. Dark Ages and modern enlightenment. The modern world and glorious antiquity. The "modern" age, a new era. And that's just part of page two.
The remainder of the page and the two pages that follow include Francesco Petrarca, Biondo, Villani, Ficino, Erasmus, Valla, Jacob Burckhardt, Wallace K. Ferguson, Schlegel, Winckelmann, Ruskin, Sismondi, Johnson (again), Michelet, Pater, Symonds, and Hazlitt.
Despite this erudite incipientia, Lynch recognizes the futility of producing such ballasted tomes by throw-back humanists of ages past, from those such as Erich Auerbach, W. J. Bate, Ernst Cassier, E. R. Curtius, P. O. Kristeller, Blanford Parker, and Frances Yates.

In their place, Lynch has produced a professional book, par excellence. He and his book are very much products of their age. They are modern, safe, and slick. You won't find him troubling himself with ideas. You can't charge him with thought.
His acknowledgements are a marvelous example of the form. And no one will reproach him for his footnotes.
Lynch leaves no stone unturned. By cobbling together every minor character to have jotted a note in the eighteenth-century, Lynch gives us his eighteenth-century. And for that we are grateful. Better to burrow underground than to soar on extended wing. For as the time for ideas has past, should we hope for anything more?
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