Dire Straits: The Perils of Writing the Early Modern English Coastline from Leland to Milton

Dire Straits: The Perils of Writing the Early Modern English Coastline from Leland to Milton

by Elizabeth Jane Bellamy

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England became a centrally important maritime power in the early modern period, and its writers – acutely aware of their inhabiting an island – often depicted the coastline as a major topic of their works. However, early modern English versifiers had to reconcile this reality with the classical tradition, in which the British Isles were seen as culturally remote compared to the centrally important Mediterranean of antiquity. This was a struggle for writers not only because they used the classical tradition to legitimate their authority, but also because this image dominated cognitive maps of the oceanic world.

As the first study of coastlines and early modern English literature, Dire Straits investigates the tensions of the classical tradition’s isolation of the British Isles from the domain of poetry. By illustrating how early modern English writers created their works in the context of a longstanding cultural inheritance from antiquity, Elizabeth Jane Bellamy offers a new approach to the history of early modern cartography and its influences on literature.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781442663916
Publisher: University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division
Publication date: 06/17/2013
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 216
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Elizabeth Jane Bellamy is a professor and John C. Hodges Chair of Excellence in the Department of English at the University of Tennessee.

What People are Saying About This

Garrett Sullivan

Dire Straits is a fresh, engaging, and important study. Its emphasis on coastlines is entirely new, and it is very well researched and effectively grounded in relevant criticism.”

Steven Mentz

“A major contribution to early modern literary studies, Dire Straits surfaces watery connections between familiar figures, including Spenser, Shakespeare, and Milton, and less well-known ones, including William Bourne and John Cleveland. Elizabeth Jane Bellamy reveals the struggles of English poets to re-define cold and distant British coastlines against sun-drenched and classical Mediterranean shores. Readers interested in the fluvial shapes of English poetry, the influence of the classics, and the career paths of these writers will find much of value here.”

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