Conviviality Interrupted or, Herrick and Postmodernism

Leah S. Marcus

in ‘Lords of Wine and Oile’

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780199604777
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191729355 | DOI:
Conviviality Interrupted or, Herrick and Postmodernism

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Literary critics have long been interested in Robert Herrick's playfulness, in areas as small as the behaviour of a ribbon and as large as the national response to James I and Charles I's Book of Sports. Herrick is among the most convivial of early modern British poets, but he is equally interested in barriers to or interruptions of conviviality. Here too, his interest oscillates between micro and macro. He writes frequently about deaths, a child's, a festival's, a culture's. In his verse, conviviality is intensified by an underlying recognition of the impermanence of the bonds it establishes. Like modern poets of the early twentieth century, who, according to Jean-François Lyotard's definition of postmodernism as nascent modernism, reacted to a shattering of belief structures by creating new formal structures in their place, Herrick created his highly ritualized and ceremonial poetry of conviviality in face of a recognition of their transitory nature and of the ‘lack of reality’ of reality.

Keywords: seventeenth-century British poetry; postmodernism; Lyotard; responses to Civil War in England

Chapter.  7162 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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