The Elizabethan Trilogy Essay - Critical Essays

George Garrett

Critical Context

George Garrett was well known as a novelist, poet, playwright, and short-story writer before he produced The Death of the Fox, the first volume of the trilogy. He had proven his accomplishments through stories that touched on a variety of themes, times, and characters, and he had been honored by awards, fellowships and critical acclaim. He thus brought a lifetime of accomplishment to help him achieve his goal of re-creating the world of Elizabethan England. The task required years of researching, writing, and experimenting to produce the forms, techniques, and styles needed to create such memorable characters as Sir Walter Ralegh, Joseph Hunnyman, and the monarchs Elizabeth and James.

Taken together, the three books of the trilogy constitute a meditation on and a re-creation of one of the greatest and most imaginative periods of Western history, especially in English literature. Daringly, Garrett’s trilogy invites, even insists, upon comparison with the literature of the period it portrays. Garrett seems to wish to be situated not merely in reference to his contemporaries but to long-acknowledged masters of English literature such as Ralegh, Marlowe, and perhaps even Shakespeare.

The critical reaction justified the daring claim. The Death of the Fox was widely hailed by literary critics and reviewers as one of the most significant novels of its time. The Succession, which followed twelve years later, confirmed the consensus among serious readers that Garrett was developing a series that was both reshaping the historical novel and redefining the modern view of the Elizabethan world. With Entered from the Sun, the third and final volume of the trilogy, Garrett was recognized as having accomplished this goal.