Cavalier Poetry and Drama Criticism: Overviews - Essay

Felix E. Schelling (essay date 1913)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Schelling, Felix E. “The Lyric in the Reigns of the First Two Stuart Monarchs.” In The English Lyric, pp. 73-111. Port Washington, N.Y.: Kennikat Press, Inc., 1967.

[In the following excerpt, first published in 1913, Schelling classifies the poetry of Carew, Herrick, and the other Cavalier poets as secular, and stresses its relation to the social life of the period.]

Analogies frequently mislead and disprove what they are invoked to illustrate; and yet the often-repeated comparison of the reign of Elizabeth to the spring, the period of peculiar and rapid quickening, the time of bloom and promise, is as useful as it is obvious and hackneyed. In such an age...

(The entire section is 1707 words.)

Thomas Clayton (essay date 1978)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Clayton, Thomas. Introduction to Cavalier Poets: Selected Poems, edited by Thomas Clayton, pp. xiii-xxii. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1978.

[In this essay, Clayton presents an overview of the four major Cavalier poets: Robert Herrick, Thomas Carew, John Suckling, and Richard Lovelace.]

Herrick, Carew, Suckling, and Lovelace share a continuing appeal that continues also to change as the times change. They are ‘for all time’, as Ben Jonson wrote of Shakespeare, but they are also much more ‘of an age’; hence their varying critical fortunes with ages and audiences like and unlike theirs. They have always found most favour with those who prefer their...

(The entire section is 3814 words.)

Joshua Scodel (essay date spring 1996)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Scodel, Joshua. “The Pleasures of Restraint: The Mean of Coyness in Cavalier Poetry.” Criticism 38, no. 2 (spring 1996): 239-79.

[In the essay below, Scodel argues that Cavalier poets “playfully and sometimes outrageously” replaced temperance with “a mistress's tantalizing coyness or a man's tantalized desire” as the appropriate middle ground between abstinence and lust.]

Up through the middle ages, Christian attitudes toward sexuality combined an ascetic repugnance toward sinful carnality with a Christianized version of the pagan ethical focus on moderating bodily pleasures. The former celebrated celibacy as the purest state; the latter fostered...

(The entire section is 15832 words.)

Marjorie Swann (essay date 1996)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Swann, Marjorie. “Cavalier Love: Fetishism and Its Discontents.” Literature and Psychology 42, no. 3 (1996): 15-35.

[In the following essay, Swann examines how Cavalier poets fetishized women in their works and discusses what this reveals about masculine anxiety.]

Stephen Greenblatt has argued that the critic who examines Renaissance literature through the lens of psychoanalysis has gone badly astray. Greenblatt maintains that the mode of subjectivity, the “continuous selfhood” of the individual assumed by psychoanalysis was unavailable to men during the Renaissance. In Greenblatt's early modern world of hegemonic power, the community acts as subject,...

(The entire section is 6845 words.)