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?