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Introduction to The encyclopedia of English Renaissance literature


Subject Literature » Renaissance Literature

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405194495.2012.00002.x


The encyclopedia of English Renaissance literature presents the most comprehensive picture of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century English literature available today. It covers the period from the reign of Henry VII to that of Charles II (roughly 1485 to 1670), two momentous centuries in the history of England that saw the end of the Wars of the Roses, the rise of the Tudor and then Stuart dynasties, the Civil Wars and the overthrow of royal government, and the Restoration of the monarchy. Historians have located in these two centuries the transitions from feudalism to capitalism and from Catholicism to Protestantism, the crisis of the aristocracy and the rise of the middling classes, the emergence of the nation-state, the dawn of empire, and the birth of modern science. For literary historians, too, this is an exciting, fruitful, and contested time – when the printing press came into its own, the English language expanded exponentially, while its literature adapted forms from the classical past and the Continental present and forged ahead in new, unprecedented ways. As a result this period produced some of the giants of world literature, among them William Shakespeare and John Milton, and a fascinatingly rich and diverse array of lesser-known writers. Over its three volumes, The encyclopedia of English Renaissance literature celebrates and analyses this legacy, providing readers ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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