Series Page, Title Page, Copyright Page

pdf iconDownload PDF
 

Contents

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. v-vi

read more

Acknowledgments and Note on Citations

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. vii-viii

I am deeply indebted to Gordon Braden, David Bromwich, Jim Chandler, Michael Murrin, Janel Mueller, and Richard Strier for extraordinarily helpful readings of earlier versions of this book. For immensely useful responses to portions of this study (as well as for much else), I am very grateful to Ullrich Langer and David Quint; ...

read more

Introduction: Ancient Paradigms in Modern Conflicts

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 1-18

“We may quickly exceed a mediocrity, even in the praise of Mediocrity,” cautioned John Donne in a 1625 sermon.1 With a destabilizing paradox, Donne invoked the venerable norm of “mediocrity” or the “golden mean” to warn his contemporaries against the danger of overuse. ...

Part One: Two Early Modern Revisions of the Mean

read more

1. Donne and the Personal Mean

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 21-47

John Donne's early poetry uses the notion of the mean so central to his contemporaries to articulate a distinctive ideological vision. His transformations of the mean emerge from his idiosyncratic classicism. Donne’s spirited and independent engagement with ancient philosophy and literature gave him a vital critical distance from some of his culture’s common habits of mind. ...

read more

2. “Mediocrities” and “Extremities”: Baconian Flexibility and the Aristotelian Mean

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 48-76

Francis Bacon promoted knowledge that would increase man’s power over himself and over nature.1 With self-conscious innovation, he sought a union of theory with practice that has continued to define the “project” of modernity.2 ...

Part Two: Means and Extremes in Early Modern Georgic

read more

3. Moderation, Temperate Climate, and National Ethos from Spenser to Milton

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 79-110

Acknowledging the powerful georgic strain in Renaissance English poetry, contemporary criticism has diversely explored how celebrations of rural labor (normally taken to identify georgic as a genre or mode) competed with a genteel idealization of rural leisure (normally taken to identify pastoral as a genre or mode).1 ...

read more

4. Concord, Conquest, and Commerce from Spenser to Cowley

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 111-142

While the preceding chapter examined English georgic poems’ celebrations of and exhortations to national temperance, this chapter will examine the growing tensions in English georgic poetry between the praise of moderation as the source of sociopolitical concord and celebrations of diverse sorts of extremism. ...

Part Three: Erotic Excess and Early Modern Social Conflicts

read more

5. Passionate Extremes and Noble Natures from Elizabethan to Caroline Literature

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 145-169

While early modern georgic increasingly places expansionary power and commercial luxury in tension with political and social restraint, erotic literature concurrently displays a similar tension between new celebrations of “extreme” passion and long-standing norms of moderation. Writers often emphasized the importance of a “mean” in conjugal relations. ...

read more

6. Erotic Excess versus Interest in Mid- to Late-Seventeenth-Century Literature

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 170-196

During the mid- and late seventeenth century, writers celebrated extreme passion in the face of new challenges. The opposition between love and political or economic ambition traced in the preceding chapter crystallized during this period into two opposed discourses. ...

Part Four: Moderation and Excess in the Seventeenth-Century Symposiastic Lyric

read more

7. Drinking and the Politics of Poetic Identity from Jonson to Herrick

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 199-224

Lyrics in the Anacreontic and Horatian symposiastic tradition, in which the poet calls for or enacts a symposium or drinking party, are an important but relatively neglected strand in seventeenth-century English poetry.1 During the early to mid-seventeenth century, the symposiastic lyric focusing upon the homosocial camaraderie of masculine drinking companions arose to rival the heterosexual love lyric. ...

read more

8. Drinking and Cultural Conflict from Lovelace to Rochester

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 225-252

Addressing the relationship of drinking parties to social and political conflict, English poets from the civil war to the Restoration adapt, travesty, and ultimately abandon classical symposiastic poetics. Constructing a Royalist response to defeat, Richard Lovelace situates drinking revels in ever-shrinking subcommunities: ...

Part Five: Reimagining Moderation: The Miltonic Example

read more

9. Paradise Lost, Pleasurable Restraint, and the Mean of Self-Respect

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 255-284

In Milton's Paradise Lost unfallen Adam and Eve discover in self-restraint both a moral discipline and the source of truest pleasure. Pleasurable restraint defines their relationship: their shared garden labors and rest, their repasts, their lovemaking, separations, and reunions. ...

read more

Postscript: Sublime Excess, Dull Moderation, and Contemporary Ambivalence

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 285-288

This study has argued that the conflict between means and extremes is central to early modern literature and continues to resonate in contemporary culture. Yet developments beginning in the early modern period have ultimately led to changes in the understanding both of literature and of the mean-extremes polarity, changes that separate the period I have studied from our own. ...

Notes

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 289-352

Index

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 353-367