The boundaries that divided the texts we now regard as aesthetic from other texts that participated in the spectacles of power or the murderous conflicts of rival religious factions or the rhetorical strategies of erotic and political courtship were porous and constantly shifting.
It is perfectly acceptable, treating Renaissance texts as if they were islands of the autonomous literary imagination. This power could be associated with civility and virtue, as Sidney claims, but it could also have the demonic qualities manifested by the "pleasing words" of Spenser's enchanter, Archimago NAEL 1. It is significant that Marlowe's great play was written at a time in which the possibility of sorcery was not merely a theatrical fantasy but a widely shared fear, a fear upon which the state could act with horrendous ferocity.
Marlowe's tragedy emerges not only from a culture in which bargains with the devil are imaginable as real events but also from a world in which many of the most fundamental assumptions about spiritual life were being called into question by the movement known as the Reformation. Catholic and Protestant voices struggled to articulate the precise beliefs and practices thought necessary for the soul's salvation.
One key site of conflict was the Bible, with Catholic authorities trying unsuccessfully to stop the circulation of the unauthorized Protestant translation of Scripture by William Tyndale, a translation in which doctrines and institutional structures central to the Roman Catholic church were directly challenged. Medieval Period.
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English Literature in the Sixteenth Century: Excluding Drama
Price incl. Pages Pages. Pub date Apr Add to cart To purchase this item, please add the product to your basket and click the Shopping basket link above to view your basket and continue. Description Index About the author This volume explores the development of literary culture in sixteenth-century England as a whole. About the author:. Obscene Modernism: Literary Censorship and Experiment