Poets and Power from Chaucer to Wyatt

Poets and Power from Chaucer to Wyatt

In the early fifteenth century, English poets responded to a changed climate of patronage, instituted by Henry IV and successor monarchs, by inventing a new tradition of public and elite poetry. Following Chaucer and others, Hoccleve and Lydgate brought to English verse a style and subject matter writing about their King, nation, and themselves, and their innovations influenced a continuous line of poets running through and beyond Wyatt. A crucial aspect of this tradition is its development of ideas and practices associated with the role of poet laureate. Robert J. Meyer-Lee examines the nature and significance of this tradition as it developed from the fourteenth century to Tudor times, tracing its evolution from one author to the next. This study illuminates the relationships between poets and political power and makes plain the tremendous impact this verse has had on the shape of English literary culture.


"Meyer-Lee's account of the generations of writers from Chaucer to Wyatt deserves to be placed alongside the very best and most influential recent histories of this same span.... Well written and consistently argued, it is literary history of the first order."
-George Shuffelton, Carleton College, The Medieval Review

"The richness of Mayor-Lee's study is suggested by its range....this is a book not to be read quickly. Its arguments - about poetic authority, voicing, the evolution of a national culture, and patronage -are well worked out and, in many cases, provocative. Meyer- Lee also provides rewarding discussions of Gower, Chaucer, and Christine de Pisan....Such a well-written, well-conceived, and well-researched book deserves attention as a serious and graceful attempt to understand late-medieval culture as a literary politics that did much to shape our understanding of public poetry, or of the poet's public voice."
Lynn Staley, Speculum- A Journal of Medieval Studies

"Meyer-Lee’s reinvestment in the idea of literary tradition gives him a strong story to tell, and he tells it crisply and effectively in this admirable study."
-Paul Strohm,Columbia University

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