Cloth $50.00 ISBN: 9780226594378 Published May 2003


The Anonymous Renaissance

Cultures of Discretion in Tudor-Stuart England

Marcy L. North

The Anonymous Renaissance

Marcy L. North

328 pages | 6 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2003
Cloth $50.00 ISBN: 9780226594378 Published May 2003
"The Anonymous Renaissance offers a paradigm-shifting look at print culture in early modern England. North demonstrates through sound historical discussions and readings that anonymity was one of the defining practices of Renaissance authorship. It is difficult to overstate the originality and importance of this new study."-Jennifer Summit, Stanford University

The Renaissance was in many ways the beginning of modern and self-conscious authorship, a time when individual genius was celebrated and an author's name could become a book trade commodity. Why, then, did anonymous authorship flourish during the Renaissance rather than disappear? In addressing this puzzle, Marcy L. North reveals the rich history and popularity of anonymity during this period.

The book trade, she argues, created many intriguing and paradoxical uses for anonymity, even as the authorial name became more marketable. Among ecclesiastical debaters, for instance, anonymity worked to conceal identity, but it could also be used to identify the moral character of the author being concealed. In court and coterie circles, meanwhile, authors turned name suppression into a tool for the preservation of social boundaries. Finally, in both print and manuscript, anonymity promised to liberate an authentic female voice, and yet made it impossible to authenticate the gender of an author. In sum, the writers and book producers who helped to create England's literary culture viewed anonymity as a meaningful and useful practice.

Written with clarity and grace, The Anonymous Renaissance will fill a prominent gap in the study of authorship and English literary history.
List of Illustrations
Note on the Transcription of Texts
Introduction: A Renaissance "Anon"
ONE Medieval Anonymity and the "Modern Author"
TWO Ignoto and the Book Industry
THREE Printed Anonymity and Its Readers
FOUR N.D. versus O.E.: Anonymity's Moral Ambiguity
FIVE In the Name of Secrecy: Anonymity in Elizavethan Puritan Controversy
SIX "Anon" inside the Circle: Coterie Anonymity and Poetic Commonplace Books
SEVEN Reading the Anonymous Female Voice
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