Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*Rome. Italy’s chief city and the center of the Roman Catholic Church. The novel’s lengthy section on Jack Wilton’s adventures in Rome provide Nashe with ample opportunity for satire, including Jack’s comment that if he were to memorize half the miracles he has heard there about martyrs’ tombs and relics brought from Jerusalem, he would be considered the “monstrost liar that ever came in print.” Nashe’s primary target here is the Roman Catholic Church, from which the Church of England had severed its ties earlier in the sixteenth century.

Rome’s Jews do not escape Nashe’s vituperative bent in the Rome section, either. This is evident in the character of the Jewish physician who buys Jack from another Jew under whose control Jack has fallen. A Jewish doctor—who not coincidentally is also the pope’s physician—plans to dissect Jack in a public anatomy demonstration for his own pleasure and profit.


*Münster. City in western Germany that, as a center of Anabaptism in the sixteenth century, is another target of Nashe’s satire because it represents the Puritan reform movement that was beginning to threaten Anglicanism. Anabaptists—who were Puritans opposed to infant baptism—briefly controlled Münster. The novel provides a detailed description of Anabaptist soldiers, including one wearing a skullcap that had served him and his ancestors as a chamber pot for two...

(The entire section is 565 words.)


(Great Characters in Literature)

Barbour, Reid. Deciphering Elizabethan Fiction. Newark, N.J.: University of Delaware Press, 1993. Barbour summarizes the narrative’s action and examines the motif of decipherment in it. Jack Wilton’s world cannot be simply explained, for chaos rules it and the past’s glosses have failed.

McGinn, Donald J. Thomas Nashe. Boston: Twayne, 1981. This work is intended as an introduction to Nashe’s life and art: It includes a meaty chapter on The Unfortunate Traveller. McGinn summarizes the work’s complicated plot and then examines critics’ estimation of its place in the history of the novel.

Simons, Louise. “Rerouting The Unfortunate Traveller: Strategies for Coherence and Direction.” Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900 28, no. 1 (Winter, 1988): 17-38. Simons argues that the work has a “novelistic coherence” in its plot and rhetoric: Its plot shows us the education of Jack Wilton, and its images reinforce that theme.

Stephanson, Raymond. “The Epistemological Challenge of Nashe’s The Unfortunate Traveller.” Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900 23, no. 1 (Winter, 1983): 21-36. Stephanson examines the work’s “enigmas,” its preoccupation with ugliness and mutilation, its erratic plot line, and Nashe’s excessive prose style, noting that part of the problem lies in the modern reader’s artistic expectations.

Suzuki, Mihoko. “Signiorie Ouer the Pages: The Crisis of Authority in Nashe’s The Unfortunate Traveller.” Studies in Philology 81, no. 3 (Summer, 1984): 348-371. Suzuki examines the problem of unity and violence in The Unfortunate Traveller, suggesting that Nashe is interested in ineffectual authority—whether political, social, moral, or religious—which results in a world in chaos.