William Baldwin Criticism - Essay

Curt F. Bühler (essay date January 1948)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Bühler, Curt F. “A Survival from the Middle Ages: William Baldwin's Use of the Dictes and Sayings.Speculum: A Journal of Medieval Studies 23, no. 1 (January 1948): 76-80.

[In the following essay, Bühler argues that in composing his Treatise of Moral Philosophy Baldwin borrowed from the version of the thirteenth-century Dictes and Sayings of the Philosophers that was translated into English by Earl Rivers.]

William Baldwin's1A Treatise of Morall Phylosophie, judging from the number of editions which were called forth, seems to have been extremely popular among Tudor and Stuart readers, no fewer than twenty-three...

(The entire section is 2873 words.)

R. Levitsky (essay date autumn 1973)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Levitsky, R. “Another ‘Germ’ of the Garden Scene in Richard II?” Shakespeare Quarterly 24, no. 4 (autumn 1973): 466-67.

[In the following essay, Levitsky contends that Shakespeare's use of certain gardening metaphors in Richard II may be traced to Baldwin's Treatise of Moral Philosophy.]

Peter Ure, in his introduction to the Arden Edition of Richard II, rejects the suggestion that the germ for the allegory in III.iv should be sought in any particular source.1 Taking cognizance of similar metaphors in Traison and elsewhere, he nevertheless finds the principal features of the allegory common in medieval and...

(The entire section is 884 words.)

Paul Gaudet (essay date October 1978)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Gaudet, Paul. “William Baldwin and the ‘Silence’ of His Last Years.” Notes and Queries 25 (October 1978): 417-20.

[In the following essay, Gaudet speculates on what happened to Baldwin after he disappeared from public view and ceased to write.]

William Baldwin was a man of diverse interests and occupations, and one of the most productive and experimental writers in England from 1547 to 1564. In his lifetime he was scholar, printer, writer, theatrical jack-of-all-trades, and perhaps schoolmaster. In his writings, Baldwin was an active sampler of various literary forms. His dedicatory verse for a work on physiology is probably the first sonnet published...

(The entire section is 2545 words.)

William A. Ringler, Jr. (essay date winter 1979)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Ringler, William A., Jr. “Beware the Cat and the Beginnings of English Fiction.” Novel: A Forum on Fiction 12, no. 2 (winter 1979): 113-26.

[In the following essay, Ringler offers an account of Beware the Cat, places the novel in the larger context of the history of English prose fiction through 1558, and comments on the excellence of Baldwin's handling of point of view, action, characterization, and style.]

The English novel was born the evening of December 28th, 1552. This is a fact of literary history that does not appear in any history of the novel. It is a fictional date, but the fiction is enmeshed with verifiable fact. On that evening...

(The entire section is 7357 words.)

Stephen Gresham (essay date spring 1981)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Gresham, Stephen. “William Baldwin: Literary Voice of the Reign of Edward VI.” The Huntington Library Quarterly 44, no. 2 (spring 1981): 101-16.

[In the following essay, Gresham asserts that Baldwin is the most representative religious and moralistic writer of the years 1547 to 1553, showing how his writings help elucidate the complex nature of the English Reformation and merge didacticism with literary quality and accessibility.]

The most representative religious and moralistic writer of the reign of Edward VI is William Baldwin, a man of letters known best to us as the chief compiler of as well as a contributor to A Mirror for Magistrates. Baldwin...

(The entire section is 7188 words.)

David Scott Kastan (essay date December 1981)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Kastan, David Scott. “The Death of William Baldwin.” Notes and Queries 28, no. 6 (December 1981): 516-17.

[In the following essay, Kastan conjectures that Baldwin probably died in the autumn of 1563.]

The date of William Baldwin's death has eluded scholars. Anthony Wood writes, ‘As for Baldewyn he lived, as 'tis said, some years after Qu. Eliz. came to the Crown, but when he died it appears not.’1 Facts concerning Baldwin's death have, however, slowly begun to appear. In spite of Arthur Freeman's claim that Baldwin lived well into the 1580s,2 Paul Gaudet has recently endorsed Eveline I. Feasey's suggestion that...

(The entire section is 630 words.)

William A. Ringler, Jr. and Michael Flachmann (essay date 1988)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Ringler, William A., Jr., and Michael Flachmann. Introduction to Beware the Cat by William Baldwin: The First English Novel, pp. xiii-xxviii. San Marino, Calif.: Huntington Library, 1988.

[In the following essay, Ringler and Flachmann provide background on the rise of fictional prose narrative and the career of Baldwin before discussing the narrative art of Beware the Cat, which the critics contend is one of the best productions of sixteenth-century European fiction.]

The long fictional narrative in prose, what is now called the “novel,” has been the dominant literary form in the west since the eighteenth century, although it was the latest to be...

(The entire section is 6652 words.)

Nancy C. Gutierrez (essay date spring 1989)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Gutierrez, Nancy C. “Beware the Cat: Mimesis in a Skin of Oratory.” Style 23, no. 1 (spring 1989): 49-69.

[In the following excerpt, Gutierrez asserts that Beware the Cat articulates the humanist theory that a text is not just a product of its author but an experience of reading that serves to create a more moral reader.]

In a ballad entitled “A shorte Answere to the boke called: Beware the Cat” (pub c. 1570), the anonymous poet derides William Baldwin's piece of short fiction, published in 1570, as a misrepresentation of the truth: “Every thing almost: in that boke is as tru / As that at midsomer” (Holden 94). The poet's confident and...

(The entire section is 9597 words.)

Terence N. Bowers (essay date winter 1991)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Bowers, Terence N. “The Production and Communication of Knowledge in William Baldwin's Beware the Cat: Toward a Typographic Culture.” Criticism 33, no. 1 (winter 1991): 1-29.

[In the following essay, Bowers maintains that Beware the Cat is a “cultural object” that reflects the transition from Catholic oral culture to Protestant print culture, claiming further that the work is a kind of treatise on reading and its social function as well as an argument for widespread literacy.]

For as the first decay and ruin of the church before began of rude ignorance, and lack of knowledge in teachers; so, to restore the church … it...

(The entire section is 12835 words.)

Andrew Hadfield (essay date September 1992)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Hadfield, Andrew. “A Possible Source of the Horse-Corser Episode in Marlowe's Doctor Faustus.Notes and Queries 39, no. 3 (September 1992): 303-04.

[In the following essay, Hadfield suggests that an episode in Christopher Marlowe's Dr. Faustus was adapted from a passage in Beware the Cat.]

It is generally agreed by scholars that the incident of the horse-corser in Marlowe's Doctor Faustus, extant in both ‘A’ and ‘B’ texts, is either the work of Marlowe's anonymous collaborator or co-written by the collaborator with Marlowe.1 It is possible that this episode may have been adapted from a passage in William Baldwin's...

(The entire section is 505 words.)

Edward T. Bonahue, Jr. (essay date summer 1994)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Bonahue, Edward T., Jr. “‘I Know the Place and the Persons’: The Play of Textual Frames in Baldwin's Beware the Cat.Studies in Philology 91, no. 3 (summer 1994): 283-300.

[In the following essay, expanded from a lecture originally delivered in 1992, Bonahue examines the textual framing produced by the several component narratives in Beware the Cat.]

The reader or critic seeking entry to the fictional world of William Baldwin's Beware the Cat could do worse than consult, as a kind of aesthetic pylon, the woodcut of three animals appearing on the verso of the first edition's title page (Figure 1). (Figure 1 omitted.)1 The...

(The entire section is 6620 words.)

Nancy A. Gutierrez (essay date 1998)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Gutierrez, Nancy A. “King Arthur, Scotland, Utopia and the Italianate Englishman: What Does Race Have to Do with It?” Shakespeare Studies 26 (1998): 37-48.

[In the following essay, Gutierrez looks at Baldwin's The Funerals of King Edward the Sixth, Thomas Malory's Morte d'Arthur, and a speech by Queen Elizabeth I to demonstrate that there was a developing awareness of racial hierarchies in mid-sixteenth-century England.]

Exactly what does it mean that race is a category of analysis for early modern writings? In most cases, the word race suggests a “color”/whiteness binary, in which whiteness is privileged. However, in the first half of the...

(The entire section is 4725 words.)

Robert Maslen (essay date 1999)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Maslen, Robert. “‘The Cat Got Your Tongue’: Pseudo-Translation, Conversion, and Control in William Baldwin's Beware the Cat.Translation and Literature 8, no. 1 (1999): 3-27.

[In the following essay, Maslen claims that Beware the Cat comments on the state of printing and translation during Edwardian rule just before the accession of Mary I and is a sophisticated celebration of the powers of the new information technology.]

William Baldwin's clever little fable Beware the Cat—a piece of prose fiction written in 1553, published in 1570, and christened by its recent editors ‘The First English Novel’—records what is undoubtedly...

(The entire section is 11291 words.)

Sherri Geller (essay date 1999)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Geller, Sherri. “What History Really Teaches: Historical Pyrrhonism in William Baldwin's A Mirror for Magistrates.” In Opening the Borders: Inclusivity in Early Modern Studies, edited by Peter C. Herman, pp. 150-84. Newark, Del.: Associated University Presses, 1999.

[In the following excerpt, Geller discusses the frame story of A Mirror for Magistrates and the way it blurs the boundary between fact and fiction, arguing that it explores the indistinguishability of truth and lies in accounts of history, thus undermining its own veracity.]

Like plenty of modern advertisements, the phrase “newly corrected and augmented” on an early modern...

(The entire section is 13607 words.)