1621 and All That. "Literary Culture in Jacobean England: Reading 1621" by Paul Salzman. [review]

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Campbell, Marion J.
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Australian Book Review
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A crucial difference between Salzman's work and more conventional literary histories is its privileging of reading over writing: he aims to cover what was readable in 1621, not simply what was written then. His book begins with a map of the mental horizon of a paradigmatic late-Jacobean reader in his account of John Chamberlain, a gentleman, information-gatherer and letter-writer who immersed himself in the news of his own culture and recirculated its currents. He is interested, promiscuously, in feasting and masquing and gossiping; he interprets what he sees and hears, whether it is trivial and playful or serious and political. For Salzman, Chamberlain stands 'as the exemplar of a method that will endeavour to allow nothing to pass unnoted.' It is hard for a reviewer to resist this as a characterisation of Salzman's own book, which is long, learned and enlightening. It adds a great deal to our sense of the detail of this rich period of literary history, even if it leaves the traditional contours of the bigger picture firmly in place.
Australian, Book Reviews, Publishing
Campbell, Marion J. 2003. 1621 and All That. Review of "Literary Culture in Jacobean England: Reading 1621" by Paul Salzman. 'Australian Book Review', No 253, August, 55.