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Reviews 195 as Louis Wright's Middle Class Culture in Elizabethan England (1958). So many of the social concepts which are taught to literary students in relation to their reading of Daniel Defoe's texts can be seen to be operative more than two generations earlier. For cultural materialism had well and truly begun its subversive assaults on the English world picture in the popular romances of the later Elizabethan period. Joan Pong Linton has afforded us an exciting revisionist history of Renaissance endeavour, of the construction of gender then and now, and of the cautions necessary in accepting current representations of an age of transition from the hierarchical mediaeval world to a more entrepreneurial one of great unscrupulousness and ofmuch early distortion of the then history as lived. J. S. Ryan School ofEnglish, Communication and Theatre University ofNew England Marcus, Leah S., Janel Mueller and Mary Beth Rose, eds, Elizabeth I: Collecte Works, Chicago and London, University of Chicago Press, 2000; pp. xxiv, 446; R R P US$40, £25.50; ISBN 0-226-50464-6. The earliest known solo portrait of Elizabeth Tudor (reproduced in this boo Fig. 1) shows her as a model Renaissance princess, holding one book in her hands while another larger volume lies open behind her. This edition of her collected writings demonstrates that it would have been equally appropriate for her to have been painted wielding a pen. Along with her flair for the dramatic and considerable shrewdness, Elizabeth had a genuine talent for exploiting the power and possibilities of the written and spoken word. W h e n placed in a difficult situation, she displayed a mastery ofopaque and cryptic language, most famously in her 'answer answerless' to a delegation of parliamentarians who demanded that she should marry. At other times, however, her language could be blunt, even brutal. One letter relaying orders to the Earl of Essex in 1591 stated that he ought to share her outrage at 'the misusadg and mockereys' allegedly perpetrated by the king of France 'if yow be not senseless' (PRO, SP 78/25, f. 388v). For this female sovereign, words were a vital tool of man management. This volume of Elizabeth's writings - speeches, letters, poems and prayers - represents 'collected' rather than 'complete' works. It does not include the queen's translations from foreign languages, which have been consigned to a 196 Reviews separate publication by the same team. Its collection of 103 letters is also frustratingly incomplete and, indeed, illustrates the serious difficulties inherent in compiling such an epistolary corpus. At least some of the letters printed here were probably composed by secretaries (especially Sir William Cecil, Lord Burghley from 1571) rather than by Elizabeth herself, while other letters which clearly reflect the queen's voice are not included. Her blast at Essex, for example, is not printed here, perhaps because it is written in Burghley's hand - even though it seems clear that the queen dictated much of that letter to Burghley and determined its scornful tone. Elizabeth sometimes worked this way, especially when she wanted to make a point by having one of her intimates share in admonishing another. In the end, the problems oftrying to determine which letters - or which parts of letters - were written by Elizabeth herself are probably insurmountable, as the editors themselves admit by their reference to the 'coproduction' of many of these writings (p. xii). Nevertheless, the editors seem to be on more solid ground in their presentation of the queen's prayers, poems and speeches. The careful weighing of the evidential value of different sources for these writings shows commendable scholarship. For example, three separate versions are printed of Elizabeth's 'Golden Speech' to parliament in 1601, whilst the dating of the source for the queen's speech to the army at Tilbury in August 1588 (which has been the subject of considerable scholarly debate) seems to prove that she did actually address the troops and in terms 'reasonably close to that reproduced here' (p. 325). The editors also note that Elizabeth usually spoke ex tempore and hence even drafts in her own hand reflect later attempts to reproduce a speech in a form fit for dissemination...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1832-8334
Print ISSN
0313-6221
Pages
pp. 195-197
Launched on MUSE
2013-04-03
Open Access
No
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