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Shakespeare's England: Life in Elizabethan and Jacobean Times written by R. E. Pritchard


Shakespeare's England: Life in Elizabethan and Jacobean Times written by R. E. Pritchard


A collection of some of the best, wittiest and most unusual excerpts from 16th- and 17th-century writing. "Shakespeare's England" brings to life the variety, the energy and the harsh reality of England at this time. Providing a portrait of the age, it includes extracts from a wide variety of writers, taken from books, plays, poems, letters, diaries and pamphlets by and about Shakespeare's contemporaries. These include William Harrison and Fynes Moryson (providing descriptions of England), Nicholas Breton (on country life), Isabella Whitney and Thomas Dekker (on London life), Nashe (on struggling writers), Stubbes (with a Puritan view of Elizabethan enjoyments), Harsnet and Burton (on witches and spirits), John Donne (meditations on prayer and death), King James I (on tobacco) and Shakespeare himself.


This intriguing and fascinating collection of some of the best, wittiest and most unusual excerpts from sixteenth and seventeenth century writing.

Publishers Weekly

Where might a knave find a loose lady in the time of Queen Elizabeth? What vegetable did Jacobean doctors prescribe for a scorpion bite? And what manner of man was described as "an intelligible ass, or a silly fellow in black, that speaks sentences more familiarly than sense"? (Answers below.) These amusing vignettes, collected by British historian Pritchard from 16th- and 17th-century writing, presents us with a riotously complex, compellingly vile and invariably colorful world. With its Morisco gowns, tight French breeches and elegantly bare-breasted Faerie Queene, this was a vibrant age with a craze for fashion. But the Elizabethans could puncture pretension as easily as conjure beauty or majesty: witness the glorious, hideous picture of "The Sonneteer's Beloved," which illustrates the clich s of lyric love poetry in an alarming collage of a woman with lips of pink coral and teeth of pearls. The age's joie de vivre is heightened by the backdrop of plague and poverty, and despite the ominously hackneyed decision to open the book with the invocation of "This earth, this realm, this England," the editor recognizes that the merriment of the royal court was always accompanied elsewhere by Third World levels of suffering. Thematic selections on "Women and Men," "London," "Poverty, Crime and Punishment," etc., are prefaced by brief, sensible introductions. But with documents headed "Teach Yourself Rogue's Cant" or "Amaze Your Friends with Home Magic," the book gravitates inexorably toward the coffee-table. (Answers: the theater; a beetroot; a scholar.) History Book Club selection. (Jan.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

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Title: Shakespeare's England: Life in Elizabethan and Jacobean Times

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