George Wither Criticism - Essay

Allan Pritchard (essay date November 1963)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Pritchard, Allan. “Abuses Stript and Whipt and Wither's Imprisonment.” The Review of English Studies n.s. 14, no. 56 (November 1963): 337-45.

[In the following essay, Pritchard explores the reasons for Wither's 1614 incarceration in the Marshalsea prison for his essay Abuses Stript and Whipt.]

George Wither's imprisonment in 1614 for his authorship of Abuses Stript and Whipt stirred considerable attention among his contemporaries, winning him the sympathy of such fellow poets as William Browne of Tavistock, Christopher Brooke, and Richard Brathwait,1 and it has an enduring claim to interest as the occasion of The Shepheards...

(The entire section is 3997 words.)

Norman E. Carlson (essay date winter 1969)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Carlson, Norman E. “George Wither—Dead at Last!” Michigan Academician 1, no. 1-2 (winter 1969): 191-95.

[In the following essay, Carlson discusses Wither's controversial career as a satirist who aimed much of his invective at lawyers.]

When, on May 2, 1667, George Wither died, after devoting at least fifty-five of his seventy-nine years of life to the publication of his poetic, prophetic, satiric, and choleric works in verse and prose, perhaps a slight tremor of relief shook England. However, one group of men, the lawyers, probably had mixed emotions which included some regret, for Wither had been good for their business. Exactly how good it is impossible...

(The entire section is 2115 words.)

Charles S. Hensley (essay date 1969)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Hensley, Charles S. “The Tireless Pamphleteer.” In The Later Career of George Wither, pp. 105-43. The Hague: Mouton, 1969.

[In the following excerpt, Hensley traces Wither's political and religious beliefs as they appear in the pamphlets he authored after 1642.]

I'le use all good and likely means I may:
Sing, when it lasteth; when it faileth, pray:
That, though from me my Foes the out-works win,
I may secure the Fortresses within,
And, in the mean space, neither be perplext
Or scared, to think, who will enslave me next:
For, he that trusts to an internal aid,
Of no external Pow'r need be afraid.

Furor Poeticus


(The entire section is 15742 words.)

Thomas O. Calhoun (essay date summer 1974)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Calhoun, Thomas O. “George Wither: Origins and Consequences of a Loose Poetics.” Texas Studies in Literature and Language 16, no. 2 (summer 1974): 263-79.

[In the following essay, Calhoun defends Wither's experimentation with a loose style of poetry while acknowledging that the results he achieved were not always praiseworthy.]

Why tell me, is it possible the Mind
A Forme in all Deformitie should find?

—Drayton, England's Heroicall Epistles

The loose style, be it that of Rabelais, Burton, Traherne, Henry Miller, or William Burroughs, has traditionally tormented literary critics, most of whom, it must be conceded,...

(The entire section is 7053 words.)

Rosemary Freeman (essay date 1975)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Freeman, Rosemary. Introduction to A Collection of Emblemes, Ancient and Moderne (1635) by George Wither, pp.vii-xiv. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1975.

[In the following introduction, Freeman maintains that Wither found rich meanings in the engravings in his collection and composed verses to accompany and explain them that were well-suited to the emblem form.]

George Wither's A Collection of Emblemes, Ancient and Moderne, was first published in 1635. Evidently the book was a long time a-making. The engravings which Wither expounds were made for and first printed in Nucleus emblematum selectissimorum by Gabriel Rollenhagen...

(The entire section is 3217 words.)

Jocelyn C. Creigh (essay date 1980)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Creigh, Jocelyn C. “George Wither and the Stationers: Facts and Fiction.” Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America 74, no. 1 (1980): 49-57.

[In the following essay, Creigh recounts the seventeenth-century dispute between Wither and the Company of Stationers.]

Everyone who is at all interested in the Company of Stationers knows that in the early seventeenth century one of its most vociferous opponents was George Wither, gentleman, student at law (Lincolns Inn), poet, prolific writer, and, quite frequently, prisoner.

Wither's first brush with the law is chronicled by J. Milton French in “George Wither in Prison.”1 In...

(The entire section is 3779 words.)

Christopher Hill (essay date 1980)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Hill, Christopher. “George Wither and John Milton.” In English Renaissance Studies Presented to Dame Helen Gardner in Honour of Her Seventieth Birthday, edited by John Carey, pp. 212-27. Oxford: At the Clarendon Press, 1980.

[In the following essay, Hill discusses the similarities between the political and religious views of Wither and Milton.]

George Wither was born in 1588, John Milton in 1608. Wither published all his best poetry before he was thirty-seven. He continued to write incessantly for the remaining forty-two years of his life. Milton published his first book of verse at the age of thirty-seven, and already had a few prose pamphlets to his...

(The entire section is 5426 words.)

David Norbrook (essay date spring 1991)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Norbrook, David. “Levelling Poetry: George Wither and the English Revolution, 1642-1649.” English Literary Renaissance 21, no. 2 (spring 1991): 217-56.

[In the following essay, Norbrook examines Wither's republican writings and his role, often neglected by critics, in the English Revolution.]

George Wither's response to the English Revolution1 is best known today from two anecdotes. During the Civil War, John Aubrey tells us, he was captured by the royalists and condemned to be hanged. He was reprieved by Sir John Denham, who declared that “whilest G. W. lived, he [Denham] should not be the worst poet in England.”2 According to...

(The entire section is 15982 words.)

Peter M. Daly (essay date 1993)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Daly, Peter M. “The Arbitrariness of George Wither's Emblems: A Reconsideration.” In The Art of the Emblem: Essays in Honor of Karl Josef Höltgen, edited by Michael Bath, John Manning, and Alan R. Young, pp. 201-34. New York: AMS Press, 1993.

[In the following excerpt, Daly suggests that Wither's comments on the emblems in his collection underestimated the influence of his sources and minimized his own understanding of their complexity.]

Critics from Rosemary Freeman (1948) to Michael Bath (1989), Charles Moseley (1989) and Richard Cavell (1990)1 have tended to lend credence, if in differing measure, to George Wither's comments about his...

(The entire section is 7918 words.)

Jeffrey S. Shoulson (essay date July 1999)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Shoulson, Jeffrey S. “‘Proprietie in this Hebrew poesy’: George Wither, Judaism, and the Formation of English National identity.” Journal of English and Germanic Philology 98, no. 3 (July 1999): 353-72.

[In the following essay, Shoulson examines Wither's writings on the Hebrew Psalms as part of the seventeenth-century discourse on the opposition between Hellenism and Hebraism.]

Spenser introduces his enigmatic and polyvalent representation of Arthur in The Faerie Queene with a detailed description of the legendary king's attire. In his depiction of the crest of Arthur's helm, Spenser writes that a bunch of colored hairs seemed to dance “Like to...

(The entire section is 8954 words.)

Jane Farnsworth (essay date 1999)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Farnsworth, Jane. “‘An equall, and a mutuall flame’: George Wither's A Collection of Emblemes 1635 and Caroline Court Culture.” In Deviceful Settings: The English Renaissance Emblem and Its Contexts, edited by Michael Bath and Daniel Russell, pp. 83-96. New York: AMS Press, 1999.

[In the following essay, Farnsworth investigates the cultural context of Wither's emblem collection.]

In the introduction to the Renaissance English Text Society edition of George Wither's A Collection of Emblemes: Ancient and Moderne (1975), Rosemary Freeman comments that the text, according to Wither begun some twenty years before its publication...

(The entire section is 4697 words.)