Gerrard Winstanley Criticism - Essay

George H. Sabine (essay date 1941)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: An Introduction to The Works of Gerrard Winstanley, edited by George H. Sabine, Russell & Russell, 1941, pp. 1-70.

[In the following excerpt, Sabine reviews Winstanley's evolving religious and political convictions and agenda.]

Winstanley's Religious Argument

Winstanley nowhere set out in logical order an outline of the religious convictions which, as he believed, led inevitably to communism as their social corollary. This was in part due to the fact that his writings are pamphlets, written as occasion demanded, and in part to the fact that his convictions were in process of formation, not in the stage of being logically...

(The entire section is 14357 words.)

H. N. Brailsford (essay date 1961)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "The True Levellers" in The Levellers and the English Revolution, edited by Christopher Hill, The Cresset Press, 1961, pp. 657-70.

In the following essay, Brailsford traces possible influences on Winstanley's thought, discussing his religious ideas and his political philosophy.

On Sunday, I April, 1649, a band of a dozen landless men with their families camped on St George's Hill, near Walton-on-Thames, and proceeded to dig and manure the common.' Their leader, William Everard, had served in the New Model Army, until his radicalism caused him to be cashiered: but this was to be for him and his comrades a peaceful, albeit revolutionary act. The 'True Levellers',...

(The entire section is 5961 words.)

Richard T. Vann (essay date 1965)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "The Later Life of Gerrard Winstanley," Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. XXVI, No. 1, January-March, 1965, pp. 133-36.

[In the following essay, Vann reviews the scant evidence available regarding the later years of Winstanley's life, examining the way in which the few known facts may support or contradict the portrait of Winstanley painted by the pamphlets he wrote in the late 1640s and early 1650s.]

The Digger Gerrard Winstanley published his last pamphlet in 1652. Almost three centuries passed before his collected works were edited by George H. Sabine and made the subject of a book by D. W. Petegorsky.1 But neither Sabine nor Petegorsky could...

(The entire section is 1997 words.)

James Farr (essay date 1983)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "Technology in the Digger Utopia" in Dissent and Affirmation: Essays in Honor of Mulford Q. Sibley, edited by Arthur L. Kolleberg, J. Donald Moon, and Daniel R. Sabia, Jr., Bowling Green University Popular Press, 1983, pp. 118-31.

[In the following essay, Farr studies the "problem of technology" in Winstanley's utopian political program. Farr demonstrates that Winstanley supported technological advancements, but only those determined to be responsible, humane, and beneficial to the utopian commonwealth.]

During the bold and heady days which followed in the wake of the first English Revolution, Gerrard Winstanley the Digger wrote and published "the first...

(The entire section is 6072 words.)

Christopher Hill (essay date 1986)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "Winstanley and Freedom" in Freedom and the English Revolution: Essays in History and Literature, edited by R. C. Richardson and G. M. Ridden, Manchester University Press, 1986, pp. 151-68.

[In the following essay, Hill argues that the freedom Winstanley sought for his countrymen included economic, social, and religious freedom. Hill examines the implications behind such beliefs and demonstrates that Winstanley attempted to appeal to the people of England through his use of the common vernacular in his writings.]

Gerrard Winstanley was born in Wigan in 1609, into a middle-class puritan family of clothiers. He came to London, was apprenticed to a clothier,...

(The entire section is 7383 words.)

Nicola Baxter (essay date 1988)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "Gerrard Winstanley's Experimental Knowledge of God (The Perception of the Spirit and the Acting of Reason)," The Journal of Ecclesiastical History, Vol. 39, No. 2, April, 1988, pp. 184-201.

[In the following essay, Baxter examines Winstanley's religious pamphlets in a study of Winstanley's use of words, language, and concepts.]

This essay is an attempt to find out what Winstanley meant by certain terms, using close textual analysis. Extensive work has already been done in locating Winstanley in political, theological and, as far as possible, intellectual terms. This will receive only cursory treatment here. A scholarly tradition can be traced from Bernstein,...

(The entire section is 9005 words.)

Andrew Bradstock (essay date 1991)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "Sowing in Hope: The Relevance of Theology to Gerrard Winstanley's Political Programme," The Seventeeenth Century, Vol. VI, No. 2, Autumn, 1991, pp. 189-204.

[In the following essay, Bradstock maintains that Winstanley's "radically unorthodox" theology contributed significantly to the development of the Digger communist platform—contrary, Bradstock contends, to what many modern critics allow.]

Since Gerrard Winstanley's writings first became a subject for serious study at the end of the nineteenth century, one question which has regularly exercised his interpreters is how far his political philosophy is shaped by or grounded upon theological premises, and...

(The entire section is 7152 words.)

John Gurney (essay date 1994)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "Gerrard Winstanley and the Digger Movement in Walton and Cobham," The Historical Journal, Vol, 37, No. 4, December, 1994, pp. 775-802.

[In the following essay, Gurney refers to Winstanley's pamphlets and other contemporary documents to discuss the levels of general societal acceptance received by the Digger communities Winstanley established in Surrey.]

Although much has been written in recent years about the life of Gerrard Winstanley,1 our knowledge of those who joined him in the Digger venture of 1649-50 remains extremely limited. Surprisingly little attention has been paid to the Digger movement in recent studies of popular protest, and there...

(The entire section is 13294 words.)

Michael Rogers (essay date 1996)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "Gerrard Winstanley on Crime and Punishment," The Sixteenth Century Journal, Vol. XXVII, No. 3, Fall, 1996, pp. 735-47.

[In the following essay, Rogers analyzes the emphasis of The Law of Freedom in a Platform (1652) on crime, law, and punishment. Rogers comments specifically on the apparent shift in Winstanley's thought from a belief in individual moral responsibility to a focus on the state's role in governing morality.]

Scholars have long recognized the importance of legal themes in Gerrard Winstanley's last writing, The Law of Freedom in a Platform (1652). This detailed work devotes its final chapter not only to a general discussion of law but...

(The entire section is 6249 words.)