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An Empire Nowhere: England, America, And Literature From Utopia To The Tempest

by Jeffrey Knapp

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About Book

Lawrence Lerner, The Times Higher Education Supplement
"A brilliant book."

Arthur Ferguson, American Historical Review
"In this complex wide-ranging, and idiosyncratic study, Jeffrey Knapp sets out to disprove the venerable notion that the unparalleled brilliance of England's literary renaissance not only reflected the vision of empire engendered by the discovery of the New World but also drew its inspiration largely from it. . . . [A] remarkable book."

Richard Helgerson, Albion
"Central to an understanding of how early-modern Englishmen conceived of themselves and their place in the world, and equally central to an understanding of what they actually accomplished, both in literature and in overseas expansion."

Book Description
What caused England's literary renaissance? One answer has been such unprecedented developments as the European discovery of America. Yet England in the sixteenth century was far from an expanding nation. Not only did the Tudors lose England's sole remaining possessions on the Continent and, thanks to the Reformation, grow spiritually divided from the Continent as well, but every one of their attempts to colonize the New World actually failed.
Jeffrey Knapp accounts for this strange combination of literary expansion and national isolation by showing how the English made a virtue of their increasing insularity. Ranging across a wide array of literary and extraliterary sources, Knapp argues that English poets rejected the worldly acquisitiveness of an empire like Spain's and took pride in England's material limitations as a sign of its spiritual strength. In the imaginary worlds of such fictions as Utopia, The Faerie Queene, and The Tempest, they sought a grander empire, founded on the "otherworldly" virtues of both England and poetry itself.

About the Author
Jeffrey Knapp is Associate Professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley.



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