Concentrating on the period between 1660 and 1781, this book tells how the English literary past was made. ‘Making the past’ indicates a range of scholarly or imaginative activities. Included in this book is a short discussion of Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey, the most important marmoreal shrine for the consecration of literary worthies. Also discussed are a wide range of poetic genres that proved auspicious for recitals of the literary past: the funeral elegy, the progress-of-poesy poem and the session-of-the-poets poem. When it comes to prose writings, works which propound or foster versions of the literary past include tomes of antiquarian recovery, taste-forming anthologies, and the rhetorical, grammatical, and elocutionary primers, often incorporating literary gobbets, which were used in schools and academies. This book also argues for an earlier inauguration of the canon than has recently been fashionable, and looks at the canonical credentials of women writers.
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