Henry Constable: The Complete Poems (Studies and Texts) (Hardcover)
Elizabethan poet Henry Constable (1562-1613), a Protestant-born Catholic convert, is a fascinating case study in how religious and political preoccupations could drive the learned across the unstable confessional divide. He threw over an early career of government service to work towards the return of England to the Catholic fold, and this dramatic change of course was accompanied by a turn to spiritual matters in his poetry. Under the weight of the Protestant-Whig narrative of English history, Constable was long dismissed as a minor poet, a Catholic traitor, or both, and his achievements have tended to be overlooked. His writings illustrate a journey through the confessional spectrum, revealing unresolved tensions between the public and the private, hope and disillusion, the secular and the religious.
This book provides a new comprehensive critical edition of Constable's sonnets that returns to the primary sources -- some of them newly discovered. It rests on extensive first-hand collation, a concern with material aspects and the circumstances of textual production and transmission, and a sound grasp of the intellectual and cultural contexts. It offers readable, uncluttered texts alongside a complete textual apparatus and notes. Along with an updated biography and a study of the sonnet collections, the introduction provides an authoritative revision of the canon of Constable's poetry and an overview of its critical reception.
This volume will be of interest not only to literary scholars but also to political and cultural historians working on early modern England and France and on the growing area of transnational English Catholicism.