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By Jeffrey Knapp

What triggered England's literary renaissance? One resolution has been such remarkable advancements because the ecu discovery of the USA. but England within the 16th century was once faraway from an increasing kingdom. not just did the Tudors lose England's sole last possessions at the Continent and, because of the Reformation, develop spiritually divided from the Continent in addition, yet each in their makes an attempt to colonize the recent international really failed. Jeffrey Knapp debts for this unusual mix of literary growth and nationwide isolation through displaying how the English made a advantage in their expanding insularity. Ranging throughout a wide range 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 power. 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

Sample text

A preoccupation with celebrating England's own utopicality would indeed help explain why More has Hythloday so quickly traverse America in search of a utopic island; yet if Utopia indicates that the discovery of America caused More only to recall England's classical other-worldliness, why does More bother with a utopia even farther afield from England than America, and why, moreover, is that gratuitous island a colonialist power? In the Dorp letter, More fancies himself among the separate British while he is actually on the Continent, as if he can appreciate England's other-worldliness only from the external perspective that his Continental admirers possess.

And to turn away from this empire "without end" (Perez de Oliva, Obras, 133v), the plus ultra of an emperor whom Wyatt allegedly "magnifieth above all measure," means to turn instead toward an England excluded from Old and New World alike. Now, it seems, the country Wyatt wants to "flee" is not Spain but England. 44 Yet such an interpretation must itself suppress a striking feature of Wyatt's epigram that, with the mention of Brutus dreaming, Wyatt's journey, how < previous page < previous page page_41 page_42 next page > next page > Page 42 ever backward, assumes the shape of imperial prophecy.

Nevertheless, on a voyage to America in 1536, "M. 54 Reaching Labrador, apparently, the English look for savages but the savages flee; the New World empties itself to accommodate its conquerors. Unfortunately, the lack of savages means a lack of food, and the English begin to starve. The company mysteriously decreases, "and the officers knew not what was become of them," until  < previous page < previous page page_45 page_46 next page > next page > Page 46 it fortuned that one of the Company driven with hunger to seek abroad for relief found out in the fields the savor of broiled flesh, and fell out with one for that he would suffer him and his fellows to starve, enjoying plenty as he thought: and thus matter growing to cruel speeches, he that had the broiled meat, burst out into these words: If thou wouldst needs know, the broiled meat that I had was such a man's buttock.

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