Originally published in 1947, this volume reviews the critical achievement at the Renaissance. It discusses the ideas of literature then current in England, as revealed in contemporary theorizing and judgments. The period has sometimes been dismissed as lacking great critics, and the critical works themselves have been described as elementary and remote, but, as this work shows, viewed in the light of what came before and after, those texts will be found to be of considerable interest and possess intrinsic and historical value. This book charts the course of the movement and the main findings and their significance in critical history. There is an emphasis to show the part payed by the medieval tradition, with its inheritance of post-classical and patristic doctrine; the lead given by 15th Century Italian and other Humanists and the no less important attempts of independent native writers to work out new artistic and dramatic theory of their own.
J. W. H. Atkins was a Fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge and Emeritus Professor of English Language and Literature, University of Aberystwyth
1. Introduction 2. The Break with Medievalism: Italian Humanists 3. Humanism in England: Colet, Erasmus, Vives 4. The Rhetoric Tradition: Jewel, Wilson, Ascham 5. The Defence of Poetry: Willis, Lodge, Sidney 6. The Art of Poetry: Gasgoigne, Harvey, 'E. K.', Webbe, Puttenham 7. Critical Developments: Nashe, Harington, Daniel, Meres, Hall 8. Dramatic Criticism: Early Tudor Critics, Gosson, Whetstone, Lyly, Shakespeare, Jonson 9. Later Theorizing: Bacon, Chapman, Bolton, Jonson, Reynolds and Alexander 10. Later Critical Judgments: Bolton, Peacham, Carew, Drayton, Suckling, Jonson 11. The Last Phase: Jonson and Milton 12. Conclusion