A rich account of a group of royalist wits and their reluctant part in a national disaster.
In the follow up to his "vivid, ardent, and engaging" John Donne: The Reformed Soul (New York Review of Books), John Stubbs finds his next subject in the turbulent period of the English Civil War. With a centuries-old conflict between the monarchy and Parliament threatening to explode, a group of poets known as Cavaliers emerged to defend the king against the Protestant reformers and, in doing so, defined an artistic movement exemplified by lines such as Robert Herrick's "Gather ye rosebuds while ye may." Often imagined as elegant gentlemen, chivalrous and dandified, they were just as likely to be found in the form of the degenerate Sir John Suckling or the syphilitic William Davenant. Biographer Stubbs sheds light on this groundbreaking group of men, on their world and their journeys through it, in peace and war, from the Blackfriars Playhouse to the battlefields of King Charles's kingdoms.
This is a very academic book and great if you are looking for more information about the social context of the Caviler Poet and the world they lived. It points out many of the inconsistency in what many of us were taught in survey classes. My only complaint is that the narrator, John Lee, reads this book in a really odd cadence. It was very distracting, and not his best work, but I am glad that I stuck with it and listened to the end.
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