Aesthetics of contingency

Writing, politics, and culture in England, 1639-89

By Matthew C. Augustine

Aesthetics of contingency


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-0076-4
  • Pages: 288
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £85.00
  • Published Date: June 2018
  • BIC Category: Literature, HISTORY / Social History, LITERARY CRITICISM / General, Humanities / Social & cultural history, Literature & literary studies / Literature: history & criticism


This new study raises fundamental questions about the nature of imaginative writing in the age of 'England's troubles'. Drawing energy from recent debates in Stuart history, this book looks past the traditional watersheds of Restoration and Revolution, plotting the responsiveness of seventeenth-century writers to the tremors of civil conflict and to the enduring crises and contradictions of Stuart governance. Augustine draws freely from the insights and strategies of contextual analysis, close reading, and critical theory in a bid to defamiliarise major texts of the period, from the poetry of young Milton to the brilliant works of adaptation, translation, and bricolage that characterised Dryden's last decade. Muting the antagonisms and conflicts that have dominated previous accounts, Aesthetics of contingency thus proposes to write the literary history of this period anew.


'For a work concerned to muddy critical waters, Aesthetics of Contingency is admirably clear, and its arguments broadly convincing.'
Taylor & Francis Online

'Aesthetics of Contingency is admirably clear, and its arguments broadly convincing. Augustine's study is a salutary reminder of something too often overlooked: that poets and writers did not usually consider themselves ambassadors for the ideals of whatever literary period posterity has since consigned them to - and that the contingencies of history always blind writers in any given moment to the outcomes of a future that seems to us so self-evident.'
The Seventeenth Century


Introduction: remapping early modern literature
1. 'He saw a greater Sun appear': waiting for the apocalypse in Milton's Poems 1645
2. 'We goe to heaven against each others wills': revising Religio Medici in the English Revolution
3. 'But Iconoclastes drawn in little': making and unmaking a Whig Marvell
4. 'It had an odde promiscuous tone': Lord Rochester and Restoration modernity
5. 'Transprosing and Transversing': religion, revolution, and the end of history in Dryden's late works
6. Coda


Matthew C. Augustine is a Lecturer in the School of English at the University of St Andrews

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