Hudibras and its literary context

Donovan, John (1972). Hudibras and its literary context. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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The thesis is approximately 60,000 words in length and is divided into three parts. Part I (Chapters 1-4) deals with Hudibras in relation to seventeenth century literary traditions. Chapter 1 introduces the poem and its author, places Hudibras within its immediate historical context, describes its popularity, and states the problem of determining its genre; several possible solutions to the problem are considered, notably those of seventeenth and eighteenth century writers; "mock-heroic" is defined and adopted. Chapter 2 is a survey: it begins by citing two adverse modern criticisms of Butler's method of ridiculing his principal character, and then sets out to test the justness of them. A number of romances popular in the seventeenth century are described; criticism of them is considered; and several satirical and burlesque works using romantic characters, motifs, and plots are analyzed. Chapter 3 places Hudibras with respect to the works and attitudes described in the previous chapter. The generating circumstances of the first part of the poem are considered in the light of Butler's presentation of them as a romance; Hudibras and Halpho are examined in relation to other mock-knights and squires, especially Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, and Braggadochio and Trompart. Chapter 4 treats Hudibras in connexion with the seventeenth century tradition of classical burlesque, analyzes Butler's treatment of classical themes and characters for the purpose of satire, and in an extended comparison between Hudibras and Gondibert examines Butler's criticism of the heroic ideals of love and military valour. Part II (Chapters 5 and 6) comprises studies of several elements of Butler's literary method in Hudibras. Chapter 5 analyzes Butler's use of metaphor and of dramatic argument as satirical techniques. Chapter 6 treats the mock-speeches (III,ii) and the burlesque heroical epistles, as well as the narrative method of Hudibras, and the device of the comic narrator. Part III consists of three appendices. Appendix A deals with the question of the identity of the 'West Country knight' upon whom Butler says that he based the character of Hudibras. The evidence in favour of Sir Samuel Luke and Sir Hanry Rosewell is examined and Sir Samuel Rolle is presented as the most likely 'original' of Hudibras A certain amount of evidence in his favour is given for the first time in this appendix. Appendix B criticizes the identification of Ralpho in the 'Key to Hudibras' (1715), presenting for the first time the source from which the author of the 'Key' drew the portrait of 'Isaac Robinson,' the man upon whom (he claims) Butler based his characterization of Ralpho. Appendix C criticizes the attribution to Butler (currently accepted) of Mercurius Menippeus, a political pamphlet first published in 1680 and containing a passage of invective against Sir Samuel Luke. It is argued that the attribution is virtually without foundation.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Faculties (to 1997) > Faculty of Arts
School or Department: School of English, Drama and American & Canadian Studies, The Shakespeare Institute
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0441 Literary History
P Language and Literature > PR English literature


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