The Origins of English Nonsense

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9780006388449: The Origins of English Nonsense
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A major rediscovery and reevaluation of a lost strand of English literature from one of today’s most brilliant scholars.

Nonsense verse in England is generally thought to have its origins in Edward Lear and Lewis Carroll. Noel Malcolm’s remarkable book lays before us the extent of its flourishing a full two hundred and fifty years earlier, with the work of such now nearly forgotten nonsense poets as Sir John Hoskyns and John Taylor. It presents an anthology of their work, much of it published here for the first time since the 17th century, and in a long introduction discusses the origins and development of the genre in England, and the history of medieval and Renaissance nonsense poetry in Europe. It is a brilliant addition to the study of English literature in the 17th century.

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Review:

‘What a versatile scholar Noel Malcolm is!... He has produced a work of equal erudition and great originality on a hitherto totally neglected, but curious and interesting subject: the
“nonsense poetry”
of the early 17th century... and it is only through Mr Malcolm’s brilliant scholarship that we can appreciate this missing chapter of our literary history.’
Hugh Trevor Roper, Sunday Telegraph

‘A readable, scholarly book... Malcolm restores to nonsense verse its rightful historical role as a medium for satire and parody and reckless play. He has helped rescue nonsense from whimsy.’
Ian Sansom, Guardian

‘A brilliant, argumentative book... Malcolm is a fine critic, and this exemplary study displays an exquisite literary sensibility operating at the height of its powers.’
Robert McCrum, Observer

‘A masterly piece of research... I do hope this publication will be applauded. People get chairs for less.’
Peter Levi, Literary Review

‘An elegant, enjoyable book which is a real contribution to literary history.’
Jackie Wullschlager, Financial Times

‘A delight.’
Mark Archer, Spectator

From the Back Cover:

Nonsense verse in England is generally thought to have its origins in Edward Lear and Lewis Carroll. Noel Malcolm – one of Britain’s most original and brilliant scholars – lays before us the extent of its flourishing a full two hundred and fifty years earlier, with the work of such now nearly forgotten nonsense poets as Sir John Hoskyns and John Taylor. It presents an anthology of their work, much of it published here for the first time since the seventeenth century, and in a long introduction discusses the origins and development of the genre in England and the history of medieval and Renaissance nonsense poetry in Europe. It is a brilliant addition to the study of English literature in the seventeenth century.

“A masterly piece of research ... I do hope this publication will be applauded. People get chairs for less.”
PETER LEVI, 'Literary Review'

“What a versatile scholar Noel Malcolm is! ... He has produced a work of equal erudition and great originality on a hitherto totally neglected, but curious and interesting subject: the ‘nonsense poetry’ of the early seventeenth century ... It is only through Mr Malcolm’s brilliant scholarship that we can appreciate this missing chapter of our literary history.”
HUGH TREVOR ROPER, 'Sunday Telegraph'

“A readable, scholarly book ... Malcolm restores to nonsense verse its rightful historical role as a medium for satire and parody and reckless play. He has helped rescue nonsense from whimsy.”
IAN SANSOM,'Guardian'

“A brilliant, argumentative book ... Malcolm is a fine critic, and this exemplary study displays an exquisite literary sensibility operating at the height of its powers.”
ROBERT McCRUM, 'Observer'

“Malcolm’s book is a delight, in which he recovers something genuinely rich and strange about our poetic ancestors. If the best history compels our attention by making the past not more but less familiar, 'The Origins of English Nonsense' succeeds.”
MARK ARCHER, 'Spectator'

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9780002558273: The Origins of English Nonsense

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ISBN 10: 0002558270 ISBN 13: 9780002558273
Publisher: HarperCollins, 1997
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