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

By Jeffrey Knapp

What prompted England's literary renaissance? One solution has been such extraordinary advancements because the eu discovery of the USA. but England within the 16th century used to be faraway from an increasing country. not just did the Tudors lose England's sole closing possessions at the Continent and, because of the Reformation, develop spiritually divided from the Continent besides, yet each one in their makes an attempt to colonize the recent global truly failed. Jeffrey Knapp debts for this unusual mixture of literary enlargement and nationwide isolation through exhibiting how the English made a advantage in their expanding insularity. Ranging throughout a big selection of literary and extraliterary assets, Knapp argues that English poets rejected the worldly acquisitiveness of an empire like Spain's and took satisfaction 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

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1530), John Rastell cites the opinion of "diverse great learned men" that, even if Brutus actually occupied Britain, it could not possibly have been uninhabited before him, considering that the rocks and mountains about Dover be so great and daily openly seen of them of Gallia and so small distance asunder and the sea so narrow that it may well be sailed in less than three hours and this country of Britain so fair so pleasant and so fertile that it is most likely that the people of Gallia should come over either to fish or for desire of knowledge of the land and to make some habitation therein and not to suffer it to be all desolate and unknown till the coming of Brute.

From this perspective, More's sedentariness looks like a national condition; if the English in general seem indifferent to the New World, perhaps that is because their island is all the world they desire. The Utopians, as colonizers, may appear less exclusively attached to their own island, yet it defines their national identity as surely as the Venetian thinks England's geography defines the English. 22 For Utopia becomes a separate world, a negative, a nowhere, only when it also becomes insular: by ordering a fifteen-mile excavation, the ancient conqueror Utopus converted a peninsula named Abraxa into the island of Utopia (U, 112/13).

And such was the mercy of God, that the same night there arrived a French ship in that port, well furnished with vittle, and such was the policy of the English, that they became masters of the same, and changing ships and vittling them, they set sail to come into England. (6) It would seem that the arrival of the well-stocked French, who like their Gallic ancestors demonstrate a supposedly new world to have been neither new nor all that alien, knocks the last bit of heroic potential out of the English story, and yet the narrator Hakluyt finds some relief at last in admiring a well-executed piece of English treachery.

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