By Alok Yadav (auth.)
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Extra resources for Before the Empire of English: Literature, Provinciality, and Nationalism in Eighteenth-Century Britain
Fairfax was he who in that darker age By his just rules restrained poetic rage; Spenser did next in pastorals excel, And taught the noble art of writing well, To stricter rules the stanza did restrain, And found for poetry a richer vein. Then Davenant came, who with a new-found art Changed all, spoiled all, and had his way apart; His haughty muse all others did despise, And thought in triumph to bear off the prize, Till the sharp-sighted critics of the times In their Mock-Gondibert exposed his rhymes, The laurels he pretended did refuse, And dashed the hopes of his aspiring muse.
The Universal Visiter frontispiece is only one example of a popular genre (generally of poems) tracing the emergent perfection of the English language and the achievements of English culture, a genre that dates back to the Restoration and that flourished through the first half of the eighteenth century. For instance, when Dryden’s translation of Virgil was published in 1697, Lady Mary Chudleigh wrote a poem “To Mr. 19 In this poem, Chudleigh anticipates the Universal Visiter in presenting Dryden as one who has brought the English language to its full perfection, but she is more explicit about the former barbarism of the native tongue.
Ngugi wa Thiong’o (1988) T H E P RO G R E S S O F E N G L I S H 45 So far, I have been tracing the transformation of the status of the English language and the English-language literary tradition in relation to the larger European world of letters and in relation to the global stage. While such erasure of “local” or “regional” cultural diversity clearly betrays an anglocentric bias, recovering this diversity is important not simply as a remedy for anglocentrism, but also to enable us to see one of the modalities of anglocentrism.
Before the Empire of English: Literature, Provinciality, and Nationalism in Eighteenth-Century Britain by Alok Yadav (auth.)