An Empire Nowhere: England, America, and Literature from by Jeffrey Knapp

By Jeffrey Knapp

What prompted England's literary renaissance? One resolution has been such exceptional advancements because the ecu discovery of the US. but England within the 16th century was once faraway from an increasing state. not just did the Tudors lose England's sole final possessions at the Continent and, because of the Reformation, develop spiritually divided from the Continent to boot, yet each in their makes an attempt to colonize the hot global truly failed. Jeffrey Knapp debts for this unusual mix of literary growth and nationwide isolation by means of displaying how the English made a advantage in their expanding insularity. Ranging throughout a big selection of literary and extraliterary resources, Knapp argues that English poets rejected the worldly acquisitiveness of an empire like Spain's and took delight in England's fabric barriers as an indication of its religious energy. within the imaginary worlds of such fictions as Utopia , The Faerie Queene , and The Tempest , they sought a grander empire, based at the ''otherworldly'' virtues of either England and poetry itself.

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Extra info for An Empire Nowhere: England, America, and Literature from Utopia to The Tempest

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Some Tudors argued that every eastward voyage inevitably met resistance, sailing gainward not only the sun but the ocean's own following current;39 yet why should Wyatt want to represent his political troubles under the guise of such travel difficulties, or conversely, what would make the westward course of the Tagus seem, for not just his oceangoing b t his political career too, the path of least resistance? As part of his argument to the city of Cordoba for improving navigation along the Tagus's southern competitor, the Guadalquivir, Hernan Perez de Oliva (1524) reminds his readers that, in the beginning, "dominion [el Senorio]" was held by the East, then by Asia, Persia, Chaldea, Egypt, Greece, Italy, and France; "now step by step approaching the West it appears in Spain [agora de grado en grado viniendo al occidente parecio en España]" (Obras, 134r).

Indeed, the comparison to More helps suggest how Wyatt's apparent negativity could actually represent an imperialist optimism. For if Wyatt's Brutus more directly represents English imperialist ambition than anything in Utopia does, it is also the case that, at the time Wyatt was writing, Utopia's vision of a devastated and therefore potentially colonialist England had been realized in a manner too radical for even More to have imagined: England had been cast out of the community of the faithful, divided from all the Christian world.

More's own prefatory letter repeats the story of his distraction but turns his uncanny self-difference into a joke, his supposed ignorance about the location of the land he has created (38/39-42/43): as a place for which More himself cannot account, Utopia comes to represent, then, the apparent unplaceability of More's surprising powers. But More's invented island does more than register his ability to transcend distraction: it translates the nowhere that distracts into the very expression of More's transcendence.

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