I'm a anglophile, royal-phile and obsessed with famous courtesans, so this was a perfect fit. Drinking poetry from Jonson to Rochester expressed opposing visions of convivial moderation and drunken excess, while erotic writing from Sidney to Dryden and Behn pitted extreme passion against the traditional mean of conjugal moderation. Throughout this groundbreaking study, Scodel suggests how early modern treatments of means and extremes resonate in present-day cultural debates. Marianne Thormahlen uncovers his familiarity with, and sly allusions to, events and leading characters in Restoration politics; his awareness of trends in science, theology and philosophy; his acute representations of contemporary mores; and his commitment to high standards in literary craftsmanship.
In times when women had very little power, the royal mistress had enormous influence, and yet she is seldom mentioned in official histories. Among the issues reflected in Rochester's poems and addressed by the author are religious discord in seventeenth-century England, the position of women scholars and poets, military matters, statecraft and foreign affairs under Charles II, and developments in philosophy and science. By uncovering the enormous variety of English responses to this ethical doctrine, Joshua Scodel revises our understanding of the vital interaction between classical thought and early modern literary culture. I'm a anglophile, royal-phile and obsessed with famous courtesans, so this was a perfect fit. Drinking poetry from Jonson to Rochester expressed opposing visions of convivial moderation and drunken excess, while erotic writing from Sidney to Dryden and Behn pitted extreme passion against the traditional mean of conjugal moderation. Marianne Thormahlen uncovers his familiarity with, and sly allusions to, events and leading characters in Restoration politics; his awareness of trends in science, theology and philosophy; his acute representations of contemporary mores; and his commitment to high standards in literary craftsmanship. Challenging his predecessors in various genres, Milton celebrated golden means of restrained pleasure and self-respect. Donne, for example, reshaped the classical mean to promote individual freedom, while Bacon held extremism necessary for human empowerment. I was very pleasantly surprised with the author's abilities. Scodel argues that English authors used the ancient schema of means and extremes in innovative and contentious ways hitherto ignored by scholars. While Rochester's texts are always at the focus of the discussion, the book has much to offer readers whose main interest is in late seventeenth-century culture and civilisation rather than in Restoration literature. Nell Gwyn, the bawdy, vivacious orange seller turned actress who endeared herself to Charles II -- and the country -- with her wit and down-to-earth manner Madame de Pompadour, the extravagant, elegant maitresse-en-titre of Louis XV who became one of the great patrons of her time while enraging the people of France Marie Walewska, who became Napoleon's mistress to save her country Lola Montez, the flamboyant, scandalous Irish beauty who reinvented herself as a Spanish aristocrat to win the heart of Ludwig I of Bavaria Lillie Langtry, the legendary beauty immortalized by the most famous artists of her day and the only woman to completely monopolize Edward, Prince of Wales, later Edward VII Written with an insider's keen understanding of court life and filled with delicious details born of impeccable research, Cupid and the King explores a little-known chapter of the history of women's roles in the royal bedrooms of Europe. Throughout this groundbreaking study, Scodel suggests how early modern treatments of means and extremes resonate in present-day cultural debates. The royal mistress was at the center of that world -- admired for her beauty and sensuality; feared for the power she wielded; even vilified, envied, and resented. The Poems in Context emphasises the poet's sharp, restless intellect, a more powerful driving force in his poems than the sensual appetites stressed by previous critics. As a result, a more complex picture of Rochester emerges - that of a serious artist who tackled major issues during a particularly turbulent period in English history. In Cupid and the King, Her Royal Highness Princess Michael of Kent recounts the stories of five very different women, each of whom became a celebrated -- or notorious -- courtesan: Imagining a modern rival to ancient Rome, georgics from Spenser to Cowley exhorted England to embody the mean or lauded extreme paths to national greatness. As early modern authors learned at grammar school and university, Aristotle and other classical thinkers praised "golden means" balanced between extremes: Through close readings of diverse writers and genres, he shows that conflicting representations of means and extremes figured prominently in the emergence of a self-consciously modern English culture.
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