Uncloistered Virtue: English Political Literature, 1640-60

Uncloistered Virtue studies the relationship between literature and the political crises of the English Civil War. It explores the ways in which the literary culture of the period changed and survived in radically shifting circumstances and conditions of sometimes extreme adversity, and examines the ways in which old forms developed and new forms emerged to articulate new ideologies and to respond to triumphs and disasters. Included in the book's discussion of a very wide range of authors and texts are examinations of the Cavalier love poetry of Herrick and Lovelace, Herrick's religious verse, the polemical strategies of Eikon Basilike, and the complexities of Cowley's political verse. The author also provides an important new account of Marvell's political instability, while the prose of Lilburne, Winstanley, and the Ranters is the subject of a long and sustained account which focuses on their sometimes exhilarating attempts to find an idiom for ideologies which previously had been unexpressed in English political life. Through the whole study runs a detailed engagement with Milton's political prose, and the book ends with a consideration of the impact of the Civil War and related events on the English literary tradition, specifically on Rochester, Bunyan, and the later writing of Milton.