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Sir John Harington and the Book as Gift Hardcover – 2 Aug 2001

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford (2 Aug. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199244456
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199244454
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.5 x 21.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,645,047 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


Scott-Warren's analysis is erudite and sometimes displays a wit worthy of the man who is its subject. It is always lively, and often provocative ... Sir John Harington and the Book as Gift can be welcomed as an example of how New Historicism can most fruitfuly contribute to the illumination of literature. (Cahiers Élisabéthains)

Scott-Warren argues persuasively ... Sir John Harington and the Book as Gift will be of tremendous interest to historians of the culture of early modern England, especially those interested in the place of books within that culture, as well as to students of Harington and his circle. (The Book Collector)

Jason Scott-Warren's study of Sir John Harington is in many ways an exemplary contribution to the 'sociological' history of the book ... the real contribution here is methodological: case studies promise to be an important component of the history of the book as it develops as a field, and this collection of microhistories reveals the extent to which careful contextualized readings can help us recuperate the social uses of early modern texts. (The Library)

This book provides an excellent introduction to Renaissance book-giving and offers both a further challenge to perceptions of a "stigma" towards printed texts within courtly literary circulation, and a restatement of the value of studying the physicality of books. (Sharp News)

The successive challenges to the often-rehearsed anecdotal details of Harington's life and writings that Scott-Warren offers in detailed discussion of literary and archival documents are a real strength of this book. (Sharp News)

Marvellously detailed book on Harington brings this huge range of material to life ... Harington's work positively glows with hitherto hidden significance after Scott-Warren's book. (London Review of Books)


Sir John Harington (1560-1612) has long been recognized as one of the most colourful and engaging figures at the English Renaissance court. Godson of Queen Elizabeth, translator of Ariosto, and inventor of the water-closet, he was also a lively writer in a wide variety of modes, and an acute commentator on his times. This study opens a new perspective on Harington's literary production by attending to the fact that almost all of his writings were designed as gifts. Combining detailed readings and first-hand historical research, Jason Scott-Warren reconstructs the complex, often devious agenda which Harington wrote into his books as he customized them for specific individuals and occasions. Offering a wealth of insights into self-fashioning and the pursuit of patronage, this study makes a persuasive case for the significance of material culture to textual interpretation. It will be of interest to all who work on the early modern period, and in particular to historians of the book.

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