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Reprobates: The Cavaliers of the English Civil Warby John Stubbs
Synopses & Reviews
In the followup to his "vivid, ardent, and engaging" John Donne: The Reformed Soul (New York Review of Books), John Stubbs finds his next subject in the turbulent period of the English Civil War. With a centuries-old conflict between the monarchy and Parliament threatening to explode, a group of poets known as Cavaliers emerged to defend the king against the Protestant reformers and, in doing so, defined an artistic movement exemplified by lines such as Robert Herrick's "Gather ye rosebuds while ye may." Often imagined as elegant gentlemen, chivalrous and dandified, they were just as likely to be found in the form of the degenerate Sir John Suckling or the syphilitic William Davenant.
Biographer Stubbs sheds light on this groundbreaking group of men, on their world and their journeys through it, in peace and war, from the Blackfriars Playhouse to the battlefields of King Charles's kingdoms.
"The 17th-century showdown between Charles I and Parliament is fought as much with rhymes as with muskets in this scintillating literary-historical study of the royalist worldview. Biographer Stubbs (John Donne: The Reformed Soul) profiles a clique of Jacobean writers dubbed Cavaliers for their 'reprobate' frivolity, including the wastrel gambler and rake Sir John Suckling; poet laureate William Davenant, who lost his nose to syphilis; and poet Robert Herrick, whose line 'Gather ye Rosebuds while ye may' distilled the Cavalier ethos. Their rallying to the king owed much to privilege and patronage, but the author also situates them in a culture war, pitting the pomp, revelry, theater going, witticisms, bawdiness, and light misogyny of the Cavaliers against the austerity, sternness, church-going, sermonizing, primness, and heavy misogyny whose gather-ye-potatoes-and-ammunition mentality won the war. Stubbs entwines an absorbing montage of the era's politics and shooting wars with searching exegeses of the verse, drama, and lavishly symbolic masques through which his protagonists reimagined the upheaval. Blending subtle aesthetics with entertaining picaresque, this is an entrancing, highly original account of Merrye Olde England locked in a losing battle with no-nonsense modernity — and of the compensating rise of a still-potent Cavalier sensibility of joie de vivre, romantic individualism, and pained elegy. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Book News Annotation:
This interesting collective biography examines the lives and political fortunes of the Cavaliers, a group of the royalist faction that supported Charles I in the English Civil War. The volume explores the personalities and positions of supporters, both highbrow and scurrilous, against the backdrop of the political machinations that would eventually lead to war. While written for a general audience, the volume will be of particular interest to students of court culture and the interaction of personality and decorum. Stubbs is the award winning author of John Donne: The Reformed Soul. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
A rich account of a group of royalist wits and their reluctant part in a national disaster.
About the Author
John Stubbswas born in 1977 and studied at Oxford and Cambridge Universities. At work on a new book about the Cavalier poets of the seventeenth century, he splits his time between England and Slovenia.
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History and Social Science » Europe » Great Britain » General History