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STUBBS, JOHN - Reprobates  The Cavaliers of the English Civil War

Title: Reprobates The Cavaliers of the English Civil War
Description: Viking/Penguin Group Ltd., Camberwell Vic., 2011. Hardcover, octavo; 549pp. Minor wear; lightly toned text block edges and mild rubbing to dustwrapper; now professionally protected by superior non-adhesive polypropylene film. Near fine. "In Stubbs's account, the first cavaliers were indeed the 'reprobates' of his books title, and the core of this book traces the careers of two of the most colourful: Sir William Davenant and Sir John Suckling. Both achieved notoriety in 1641 for their parts in the abortive military coup against Parliament. But, as Stubbs reveals, both had long and occasionally interlocking back-histories as minor courtiers and rather less minor men of letters, whose loose living, dandified attire, and taste for adventure - sexual as well as military - leaves one in little doubt as to the reprobation of those early cavaliers. Davenant and Suckling - the one Shakespeare's godson, the other the nephew of a disgraced Lord Treasurer - were both aspirants to courtly favour who deployed their literary gifts to win assignments requiring discretion and trust: often as emissaries or minor diplomats, or, as in 1641, as agents in royalist plots. Both were syphilitic, and while the boyish and luxuriantly auburn-haired Suckling underwent medical treatment - ingesting near-fatal does of mercury - with his looks unscathed, Davenant overdosed, losing his nose, if not his literary admirers at court, in the process. Stubbs is a brilliant expositor of poetry and deploys Davenant's and Suckling's verse to illuminate this particular milieu at the Caroline court with subtlety and panache: the world of the 'roaring boys', with its taste for gambling, wenching and chivalric adventure, that was always at odds with the high moral tone set by the chastely pious Charles I. If one were to extract this volume's sections on Davenant and Suckling alone, we would have a brilliant exposition of one important strand in court culture and politics.Yet this book's ambitions are very much broader, and there are times when it seems to be offering both a full-scale narrative history of Charles's reign and a full-scale literary history of the early 17th century: with series of excursuses to consider the works of a wide variety of contemporary authors - from the negligent country parson Robert Herrick to that refined connoisseur of landscape, Sir John Denham - men whose social and moral worlds were universes apart from the libertinism of Stubbs's authentically reprobate cavaliers. Nor is this the only definitional glitch. If the exploits of Gustavus Adolphus rank as 'high cavaliering', some of the highest cavaliers - on this definition - were to be found among the future parliamentarians who joined his campaigns with even greater enthusiasm, and in greater numbers, than Stubbs's future Royalists.This book has all the qualities of Prince Rupert's celebrated cavalry charges that so impressed his Roundhead adversaries. One cannot resist being carried along by the sheer boldness of the charge, and the brilliance and elan of its execution. If, in the end, some of our author's horses gallop away with him, and some of his key objectives remain untaken, that does not diminish either the exhilaration of the ride or one's admiration for the sheer flair and bravura of the whole endeavour. " - John Adamson.

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Price: AUD 26.40 = appr. US$ 18.27 Seller: Lamdha Books
- Book number: 82648


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