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Short Notices 253 ofthe Dialogue concerning Heresies. Each text is examined in terms of the social, political and personal context of the time, and Marius uses each piece ofwriting to establish the character traits of his subject. Yet while it is a readable, educated, and enjoyable work, Thomas More: A Biography is not a fitting legacy for Marius, w h o died shortly after its paperback release. His major scholarly contributions to the study of the saintly Lord Chancellor are his 25 years' work on the Yale Edition ofthe Complete Works ofSt Thomas More. Thomas More: A Biography is a book pitched at a popular readership, albeit a very interesting, well-written, and thought-provoking one. It is a good starting point for discussion of Thomas More and his writings; it raises many interesting issues, and is full of provocative points. For example, Marius argues that Book One of More's Utopia 'is not a cry for reform but a bid for supporting ironic smiles' (p. 158). H e is especially controversial in his re-evaluation of More's personal character, portraying him as a ruthless hunter of heretics, a strict authoritarian, and somewhat sexually repressed. However, by Marius' own admission he 'kept the scholarly apparatus to a minimum' (p. 525), so while he lists a number of secondary works, they are not cited within the text. This limits the usefulness of the work, and reduces it to an educated opinion, rather than an academic study. David Tulloch Department ofHistory Victoria University of Wellington May, Steven W , The Elizabethan Courtier Poets: The Poems and Their Contexts, Asheville, North Carolina, Pegasus Press, The University ofNorth Carolina, 1999; paper; pp. 407; ISBN 1-889818-05-4. This is a reprint of a book initially published in 1991 which was deservedly reviewed at the time. Its reappearance is justified. Atfirstglance it looks like a text book for a very specialised course on Elizabethan courtly poetry, since it has severaf chapters examining the historical context, followed by scrupulously edited and annotated texts of poems. But closer reading reveals that it is much more than this. The book is based on close and detailed research, and it is essential reading for scholars of the period as well as students. M a y analyses the court 254 Short Notices system under Elizabeth, who had a household of over one thousand employees, pointing out that only a small handful, qualified by rank, social status and personal accessibility to the Queen, can with accuracy be called courtiers. His sober account puts to shame the broad generalisations about power and ideology given by many new historicists, who can be suspected of not really knowing what a 'courtier' is. Each individual w h o m M a y categorises as a courtier (based on Elizabeth's personal acceptance and, more technically, on the list of those who exchanged gifts with her at N e w Year), is examined on a case by case basis, establishing the exact social rank, political position and poetic motivation. At the centre in the 1570s and 1580s were the 'Blessed Trinitie', the formative Sidney, his friend Greville, and his much neglected but highly influential mentor, Dyer. Then there is a group who used poetry for personal advancement, whose work is less varied and innovatory. In a sense Raleigh belongs here, because his poetry was undoubtedly self-interested, but he pursued no narrow financial gain or specific suit to the monarch, and he rises above the ruck because 'his lines dealt with the very essence of courtiership, his social relationship with his sovereign'(p. 120). Devotional verse was a fairly prudent and safe genre for the courtly aspirant, since it gave the impression of avoiding the 'envy, deceit, backbiting, and flattery, as well as the vanity of courtly display in its myriad forms'. The more audacious played for higher stakes by writing verse drama, one of the Sidney legacies. M y criticism ofthe book is purely typographical, and apparently a publishing decision rather than authorial. For both students and researchers, the second section - the edition of the poems - is not presented in a clearly defined way. Page headers could have indicated the actual poet dealt with...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1832-8334
Print ISSN
0313-6221
Pages
pp. 253-254
Launched on MUSE
2013-04-03
Open Access
No
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