資料彙整   /  概念  /  簡介:[英] 十七世紀 The 17th Century
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提供者:Marguerite Connor 康慕婷; Cecilia Liu 劉雪珍

Introduction to the Seventeenth Century

 General Introduction

 Historical Background

 Major Authors

 General Introduction

The early seventeenth century extends from the accession of the first Stuart king (James I) in 1603 to the coronation of the third (Charles II) in 1660. But the events that occurred between these boundaries make much more sense if they are seen in a larger pattern extending from 1588 to 1688. Between these two dates massive political and social events took place that bridge the gap between the Tudor "tyranny by consent" of the sixteenth century and the equally ill-defined but equally functional constitutional monarchy of the eighteenth century.

A sense of deep disquiet, of traditions under challenge, is felt everywhere in the literary culture of the early 17th century. Long before the term was applied to our own time, the era of Donne and Robert Burton (the obsessive anatomist of melancholy) deserved to be called the Age of Anxiety. One may think of the "Metaphysical" poets who followed Donne (such as Herbert, Crashaw, Vaugham, and Cowley) as trying to reinforce the traditional lyric forms of love and devotion by stretching them to comprehend new and extreme intellectual energies. In the other direction, Jonson and his "sons" the so-called Cavalier poets (such as Herrick, Suckling, Lovelace, Waller, and Denham) generally tried to compress and limit their poems, giving them a high polish and a sense of easy domination at the expense of their intellectual content.  The common contrast of Cavalier with Metaphysical does describe two poetic alternatives of the early century.  Yet both style were wholly inadequate containers for the sort of gigantic energy that Milton was trying to express.

At the heart of the century of rapid change lies the Puritan Revolt of 1640-60. The century together with the English Revolution was a time of intense ferment in all areas of life —religion, science, politics, domestic relations, culture. That ferment was reflected in the literature of the era, which also registered a heightened focus on and analysis of the self and the personal life. However, little of this seems in evidence in the elaborate frontispiece to Michael Drayton's long "chorographical" poem on the landscape, regions, and local history of Great Britain (1612), which appeared in the first years of the reign of the Stuart king James I (1603-1625). The great seventeenth-century heroic poem, Paradise Lost, treats the Fall of Man and its tragic consequences.


 Historical Background
  The 17th century was a time of enormous change in England.  In 1603 the last Tudor monarch Elizabeth I died and the throne went to her Stuart cousin, the Scottish King James VI who became James I of England

James was an autocrat who believed strongly in the Divine Right of Kings.  He believed that God had placed him on the throne as God's lieutenant on earth.  This autocratic ideal was to have terrible ramifications for Stuart kings. 

Religious strife - During the early part of the century there was a growing religious division in people.  The Anglican (official) Church was the middle way.  On one side stood the illegal Roman Catholic Church, and on the other stood the growing Puritan movement. 

Puritans were even more conservative in their forms of worship than were the Anglicans.   They were convinced that all were equal in the sight of God, and because of this, kings were not strictly necessary.  I am simplifying here, and this is all rather complex. 

The popularity and strength of the Puritan movement grew throughout the 1630-40s until in 1642 Civil War broke out between the Puritans, who were supported by and actually controlled Parliament, and the Court, or Royal Party.  This religious strife is often mirrored in the poetry of the pre-war years.

Civil War - When the war broke out, James's son Charles I was king.   Charles had inherited his father's ideas of kingship, but not his strength.  He also failed to realize the growing strength of the merchant/middle class.  The war went on until 1649 when Charles was captured by the Parliamentary forces and in a revolutionary move, beheaded.  He family had already fled to France and Holland.  His son, Charles II became king in name only but didn't come to the throne until 1660.  Instead Oliver Cromwell, who had been head of the Parlimentarian Army, was named Lord High Protector of England, and England entered what is known as the Commonwealth Period

Commonwealth - During this rather austere period of Puritan rule, theaters were closed and literature fell into a bit of a slump.  Poetry was only seen as good when it talked about God or holy stories, and narratives were seen as nothing more than lies and lies are sinful.  The greatest art form during this period is the essay. 

Restoration - In 1660, 2 years after Cromwell's death, the Parliament and the people of England decided that they wanted their monarchy back and Charles II was asked to come and take the throne.  He did and there was a great creative output after the years of grim Puritan rule.  But Charles remained childless and his apparent heir, his brother James, was a Catholic.  According to English law, Catholics could not hold public office, and people feared another Mary Tudor.  So things were politically unstable at times. 

Charles II, C. 16560-65.  National Portrait Gallery.  The Restoration and the Eighteenth Century.

The was effigy of Charles II, made immediately after his death, which stood over his catafalque.  (from Royal Charles Antonia Fraser.  Delta, 1979: 364) 

Glorious Revolution - This is what the people called it in 1688 when James left and his Protestant daughter Mary took the throne as Mary II with her husband and first cousin William III.  They have been the only joint rulers in British history.  Some felt that James was the true and rightful king, and people took sides.  This split will be reflected in the literature for the rest of  the century. 

from The Restoration and the Eighteenth Century  Martin Price.  NY: Oxford UP, 1973.


 Major Authors

Susanna Centlivre

Colley Cibber

John Donne     約翰˙唐恩

George Farquhar

George Herbert     喬治.赫伯特

Robert Herrick     羅伯•海瑞克

Ben Johnson     班.姜森

Andrew Marvell     安德魯.馬葦爾

John Milton     約翰.密爾頓

Mary Pix

Richard Steele

John Vanbrugh        



  • The Nature of Love 2: From the Courtly to the Romantic.  Irving Singer.  Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1987.
  • Goddesses.  Lanier Graham.  NY: Abbeville P, n.d.
    • 1.Apsara Combing Her Hair; Khmer, Cambodia, n.d. Musee des Arts Asiatiques Guimet Paris. Goddesses p. 182.
    • 2. Kandariya-Mahhadeva Temple (north facade), Khajoraho, India, 10th-11th century. Goddesses p. 180.
    • 3. Aphrodite Rising from the Sea.Greece, 6th-5th century B.C.E.Museo Naxionale elle Terme, Rome.Goddesses p. 184.
    • 4. Aphrodite ("Venus Genetrix").  5th-4th century B.C.E.  Musee du Louvre, Paris.   Goddesses p. 185.
    • 5. The Birth of Venus.  Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510).  Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence.  Goddesses p. 190.
    • 6. The Birth of Venus.  1912.  Odilon Redon (1840-1916).   Musee du Petit Palais, Paris.  Goddesses p. 193.
    • 7. Barbarians' Venus, 1921. Paul Klee (1897-1940).  The Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena, California. Goddesses p. 195.
    • 8. Black Venus, 1965-67.  Niki de Saint Phalle (b. 1930).  Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.  Goddesses p. 197.
    • 9. Poster for the film "Blode Venus," 1932.  Private Collection.   Goddesses p. 196.


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