restricted access Transforming the Word: Prophesy, Poetry, and Politics in England, 1650–1742 by Margery A. Kingsley (review)
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183 tinguish their own superiorbehaviorfrom that of their more artificial counterparts. Ms. Tague discusses thesewomen’sdirect participation in public life, an option the conduct book prohibited its middleclass female audience from pursuing. Only two chapters ‘‘address areas central to didactic authors’ vision of the ideal woman’’; the others deal with concerns more tangential and more clearly connected to elite society. To her credit, Ms. Tague’s project seems driven by her primary sources, ‘‘some particularly rich troves of female writing’’; yet, as she details them, the secondary apparatus starts to feel tacked on, the conduct books an unwieldy and, arguably, inappropriate instrument for examining these works. Thesewomen are,afterall,notthesubject of these didactic texts, but the object of their attack. More disappointing, her reading leaves largelyunchallengedthese texts’ dry representation of the middleclass woman who remainslessinteresting than these more complex women of quality . Cynthia Richards Wittenberg University MARGERY A. KINGSLEY. Transforming the Word: Prophesy, Poetry, and Politics in England, 1650–1742. Newark, Delaware ; London: Associated University Presses, 2001. Pp. 223. $39.50. Ms. Kingsley reads five ‘‘canonical’’ works of the Restoration and early eighteenth century—Butler’s Hudibras, Dryden ’s Annus Mirabilis and MacFlecknoe, Mandeville’s Fable of the Bees, Pope’s Dunciad—as fictional embodiments of ‘‘prophetic discourse,’’ a powerful cultural force hitherto largely ignored. By examining polemical pieces such as pamphlets , broadsides, sermons, and ballads, she demonstrates the vitality and complexity of Biblical modes like the Jeremiad and the Lamentation. The genre changed over the course of a century, adapting to the volatile English society. As a consequence, we are better able to understand how and why ‘‘conservative’’ authors such as Butler, Dryden, and Pope appropriated a discredited mode of discourse often associated with ‘‘radical,’’ ‘‘visionary,’’ and ‘‘revolutionary’’ writers . Though historians like Christopher Hill have made us familiar with the religious fanaticism, political strife, and culturalturmoiloftheEnglishCivilWars, Ms. Kingsley focuses instead on the prophetic writings of Quakers and Ranters, showing how their rhetorical and ideological devices served the ‘‘establishment ’’ satirists of the Restoration. Thus Butler and Dryden (and later, Mandeville and Pope) perpetuated ways of thinking, feeling, and writing of such marginalized and maligned writers as Abiezer Cropp, Ambrose Brigge, and HesterBriddle.Ms. Kingsley is by no means the first to observe this commingling and interdependence of low and high culture. The forces unleashed by the Civil War, however, compelled Royalist writers to adopt entirely ‘‘new theories and strategies of representation ’’ in order to create viable models of political authority and civil obedience. The roles of prophesy and providence in literary works shiftedtoaccommodate specific crises in English history and gradual developments insociety, economics, and modes of cultural production (the theater, in particular). Ms. Kingsley explains, for example, why prophesy operates differently in Mac Flecknoethan it doesinTheDunciad,and why prophesy assumes its urgent and troubling form in Mandeville’s political fable. My one regret is that Ms. Kingsley 184 does not treat in sufficient depth two of her texts, The Dunciad and Fable of the Bees. In most other respects, Transforming the Word is an illuminating and valuable study. Taylor Corse Arizona State University TONE SUNDT URSTAD. Sir Robert Walpole ’s Poets: The Use of Literature as Pro-Government Propaganda, 1721– 1742. Newark: Delaware, 1999. Pp. 297. $45. George de Forest Lord and his fellow editors of Poems on Affairs of State made few efforts to link their volumes to the history of political thought after the Restoration , although Steven Zwicker and a few others realized this synthesis. However , much remains to be done, especially in the age of Walpole and the early Hanoverians , which follows the POAS cutoff date of 1714. In fact, several studies superior to this (and not cited here) offer useful analyses. Ms. Urstad studies the poetry of what we might call ‘‘the Court Whigs,’’ that is the Robinocrats under the sobriquetladen Walpole. Reed Browning and Jock Gunn have greatly enhanced the bland Namierite verdict that the men in power were richer in purloinedsharesandplaces than they were in ideas. Indeed, of all the political actors of the period, those in the Opposition have dominated scholarly interest , partly because their cries against ‘‘corruption’’ and ‘‘influence’’ resonated with historians seeking the origins of modern liberty and accountable government . This...