Saturday, 23 April 2011

The Seventeenth Century

For a book on the Seventeenth Century, I thought it ended rather early...  What happened to the last twelve years?  What happened to the Glorious Revolution?  Surely it would make more sense to have it in a book on the seventeenth century, so that you can get a sense of where it came from, rather than a book on the eigtheenth (I presume it does make it into the one in the series on the eighteenth century, but I haven't read it so I can't say).  That apart, I did think this was really good.

Unlike the one on the sixteenth century in the same Oxford Short History of Britain series, it gave a pretty good sense of chronology.  There were several chapters on the political 'story' as it were, explaining the early Stuarts, Civil War, Interregnum, and finishing up with the latter Stuarts.  James II was barely covered, possibly he gets more space in the next one in the series. 

It's a series of essays, rather than a single text, which I think works really well in this book.  The one on culture was particularly interesting, as it made only passing reference to Shakespeare and instead focussed on other elements and writers, and paid particular attention to the development of theatre from the Court Masque.

I was surprised at how good a sense of chronology there was, and it managed to be clear about the various rulers.  The Interregnum wasn't perhaps covered as well as it might have been, but it's hard to criticise when those twenty years were so confusing it must be incredibly difficult to structure them in a coherent manner.  What else?  Well, aside from a rather disappointing end (seriously, I really want to know about the Glorious Revolution, when can I do it?!) it was really good.  Certainly, it proved readable and engrossing, as well as being clear.  I really am turning into an early modernist though...  Never mind.  I'm sure it's curable.  If not, well, I'll have to add portraits of Cromwell and Charles I to my noticeboards along with all the aeroplane posters...

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