The English civil wars loom large in seventeenth-century history and literature. This period, which culminated in the execution of a king, the dismantling of the Established Church, the inauguration of a commonwealth, and the assumption of rule by a lord protector, was one of profound change and disequilibrium. Focusing on writers as major as Milton, Marvell, Herrick, and Vaughan, and as misunderstood as Fane, Overton, and the poet Eliza, the fifteen essays in this collection discuss not only the representation of the civil wars but also the ways in which the civil wars were anticipated, refigured, and refracted in the century's literary imagination.
Although all of the essays are historically grounded and critically based, they vary widely in their historical perspectives and critical techniques, as well as in their scope and area of concentration. Six of the essays are on Royalist literary figures, six are on figures traditionally associated with the Parliamentarian side of the civil wars, two consider both, and the remaining essay examines how Royalist writers refashioned a puritan literary trope.
Unified through the contributors' concentration on "moderate" voices and their recurrent concerns with the ambiguities of literary response, The English Civil Wars in the Literary Imagination provides an important understanding of the English civil wars' manifold and sometimes indirect presence in the literature of the period.