Whereas questions of race, class and gender may be uppermost in the minds of many late twentieth-century scholars and critics, in the early modern period tradition and belief were the predominant preoccupations, in practical terms, custom and Christianity were inextricably intertwined within the changing culture of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. An awareness of these past concerns motivates each of the seven articles in this issue, articles which re-examine literary and historical texts, not as past mirrors in which we might speculate upon our own particular preoccupations, but as sources of a more anthropological and spiritual history.
The six articles collected in this third issue in Volume 13 encompass a variety of sources and approaches. The texts examined date from the sixteenth century through to the twentieth. They range from novels to plays, musical scores to diplomatic letters and legal documents, and draw on selected historical, theoretical, philosophical and psychological tracts, advocating the journal’s interest in the dialogue between literary and cultural studies.
When I was a child I remember being fascinated by a bundle of very old letters which my grandmother kept at the back of her writing desk, tied together with a piece of faded ribbon. The letters were still in their respective envelopes; some had stamps bearing Queen Victoria’s head – Penny Blacks and Reds – which I marvelled at, for these were collectors’ items already in the 1950s, or so my older sister informed me. The envelopes were addressed in different styles of copperplate handwriting in blue or black ink which had sometimes spitted a careless blot or two randomly across the neatly etched script. Inside, curling characters scrolled across the folded pages, which occasionally enclosed a small memento: a sepia photograph or a pressed flower – a violet still faintly blue. The writing itself seemed to speak volumes to a small child who was still painstakingly learning to form her own characters at school; but the letters were far more than mere handwriting to be deciphered and interpreted. For me, as for my grandmother, these were distinct voices from the past. And in their different rhythms of speech, forms of expression and often oldfashioned vocabulary, these individual letter-writers seemed to momentarily live again when their words were reiterated.
Anne Kelley and Carol Banks
Drama and Politics in the English Civil War Susan Wiseman (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), ISBN 0-521-47221-0 hardback £40.00
The English Renaissance: An Anthology of Sources and Documents Edited by Kate Aughterson (London and New York: Routledge, 1998) ISBN 0-415-18554-8 hardback £90.00
Coming of Age in Shakespeare Margorie Garber (New York & London: Routledge, 1997) ISBN 0-415-91908-8 paperback £10.99
Graham Holderness and Carol Banks
Although this last issue in Volume 12 is eclectic rather than the- matic, the articles and interviews all focus on poetry and fiction written in the second half of the twentieth century.
Ramona Wray, Anne Kelley, Carol Banks and Andrew Murphy
Lay by your Needles Ladies, Take the Pen: Writing Women in England, 1500–1700. Edited by Suzanne Trill, Kate Chedgzoy and Melanie Osborne (London: Arnold, 1997). Paperback: ISBN 0-340-61450-1 £14.99; Cloth: ISBN 0-340- 691484 £45.00
Women and Literature in Britain, 1500-1700. Edited by Helen Wilcox (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 1996) 307 pp. Paperback ISBN 0-521-46777-2 £12.95; Cloth: ISBN 0-521- 46219-3 £35.00
Engendering a Nation: A Feminist Account of Shakespeare’s English Histories. Jean E. Howard and Phyllis Rackin (London: Routledge 1997). Paperback: ISBN 0-415-04749-8 £14.99; Cloth: ISBN 0-415- 04748-X £45.00
Women in Italian Renaissance Art: Gender Representation Identity. Paola Tinagli (Manchester University Press, 1997). Paperback: ISBN 0-7190-4054-X £15.99; Cloth: ISBN 0-7190- 4053-1 £45
Shakespeare’s Folios. 4 volumes boxed (London: Routledge/Thoemmes, 1997). ISBN 0-4151-5878-8 £650.00