Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 422
Women and Gender in Early Modern Europe (1993), by Merry E. Weisner, represents the author’s research of women from 1500 to 1750. The author focuses on women’s roles in relation to general historical developments and the effects of such developments on women. Her work is characterized by her approach to study as a sort of “digging into women’s private and domestic experiences.” There is consideration not only of the physical experiences of women—those of menstruation, pregnancy, and motherhood—but of the ways in which women attempted to carve out meaningful lives for themselves based on such experiences. The work also compares female gender roles with those roles imposed on males, to produce some very interesting insights and observations.
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Oliver Cromwell and the English Revolution (1990), edited by John Morrill, is a discussion of Oliver Cromwell’s life, both personal and political. Although he died at the dawn of the neoclassical age, he was one of the best-known, as well as one of the most controversial, figures in English history and would shape political discourse well into the neoclassical age. Cromwell has been celebrated as a champion of both religious and civil liberties and for his role in the defeat of Stuart tyranny. The book describes the phases of his career as citizen, soldier, and lord protector.
The Rise of the Novel: Studies in Defoe, Richardson, and Fielding (1938), written by Ian Watt and reprinted in 2001, is a consideration of the relation between the growth of a reading public and the emergence of the English novel in the eighteenth century. Watt’s study draws on the works of Defoe, Richardson, and Fielding, among other important novelists, to discuss the qualities of the English novel that distinguished it from other existing literary genres. His work has been characterized as a classic description of the social conditions, changing attitudes, and literary practices dominating the period during which the novel reigned as a dominant literary form. Watt’s study also considers the audience the novel reached, its role in the book trade, and the evolution of English society during the eighteenth century.
The Literary Life and Other Curiosities (1981), by Robert Hendrickson, is a wonderful collection of anecdotes, quotations, lists, and poems concerning books and their authors, including many from the neoclassical period. It’s a wonderfully humorous and historically valuable work, offering unusual insight into writers such as Dryden and Swift. In his chapter entitled “Wits, Wags, and Literary Weasels,” Hendrickson explores the use of wit, pun, and hoax amongst writers, offering very amusing anecdotes and examples.