By Jeffrey Knapp

What prompted England's literary renaissance? One resolution has been such extraordinary advancements because the eu discovery of the United States. but England within the 16th century used to be faraway from an increasing kingdom. not just did the Tudors lose England's sole ultimate possessions at the Continent and, because of the Reformation, develop spiritually divided from the Continent besides, yet each in their makes an attempt to colonize the recent global really failed. Jeffrey Knapp bills for this unusual mixture of literary growth and nationwide isolation by means of exhibiting how the English made a advantage in their expanding insularity. Ranging throughout a wide range 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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Even Wyatt's bidding farewell to the Tagus implies his cognizance of America: since at least Roman times the river had served as a conventional synecdoche for the western bounds of the Ptolemaic world ("before we occupied the end of the world''),42 yet now America had surpassed the Tagus both geographically and goldenly; and Charles's motto was Plus ultra, More beyond. The combination of map-tracing and resistance in Wyatt's poem begins to make more sense. If eastward for Wyatt is "gain-ward" the superseded Tagusagainst the imperial union of gold and the sun that breeds it43then the proper direction for Wyatt's journey must be west, the proper destination the golden Indies.

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.

Erasmus, Correspondence 4:163) Â < previous page < previous page page_50 page_51 next page > next page > This jeu d'esprit on the vanity of Nowhere and Shadow City, then on the vanity of More's pride in them, and finally on quickly modulates into an attack borrowed from Utopia on the inanity of real kings: Thus equipped, at the head of a long procession, I greet the envoys and the rulers of other countries, who are greatly to be pitied compared with us, however much they may foolishly pride themselves on their childish finery and the women's ornaments with which they are bedizened, loaded with chains of contemptible gold and made to look absurd with purple and gems and other such airy nothings [bullatis nugis].

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