'Lawrels for the Conquered' : the dilemmas of William Davenant and Abraham Cowley in the revolutionary decades of the seventeenth century.
University of Cambridge
Faculty of English
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
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Shore, R. (1994). 'Lawrels for the Conquered' : the dilemmas of William Davenant and Abraham Cowley in the revolutionary decades of the seventeenth century. (Doctoral thesis). https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.11582
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This dissertation is designed to re-illuminate the figures of William Davenant and Abraham Cowley and to begin to suggest some of the ways in which neglected works dating from the period of the English republic might fruitfully be read. It focuses on the work Davenant and Cowley published in the middle decades of the seventeenth century and attempts to trace the course of their artistic and political waverings in the face of republican iconoclasm. Where English history is customarily squeamish about the idea of political collaboration, the dissertation examines how Davenant and Cowley vacillated between the desire to remain in the royalist literary underground and the temptation to collaborate with the godly authorities. It analyses their work in terms of these twin forces and attempts to assess how far they continued to make 'Lawrels for the Conquered, as Cowley described it, and to what extent they tried to accommodate the revolutionary and godly spirit in their art. 1 The dissertation falls into two parts. The first is largely concerned with the poetry published b)'. Davenant and Cowley in the period, in particular Davenant's Gondibert (1651) and his panegyrics to various Commonwealth grandees and Cowley's lyric sequence The Mistress (1647) and his Poems (1656). In order to offer properly contextualized readings I also look at work published by iconoclasts such as Milton and Wither, by royalist apostates such as Edmund Waller, and by faithful cavaliers such as John Denham. The second part of the dissertation revolves around Davenant's attempts to revive the outlawed stage. It reviews the degree to which the theatre was identified with the court and the monarchy before investigating Davenant's pamphlet arguing for the restoration of the drama, A Proposition for Advancement of Moralitie (1654). It then examines Davenant's subsequent 'operatic' entertainments in terms of the ideological requirement to disinherit the stage of its Caroline legacy. It explores important works by James Shirley and Richard Flecknoe and attempts to shed new light on Cowley's involvement in Davenant's projects. Finally, but perhaps most revealingly, it looks at some of the self-exculpatory accounts offered by fallen royalists on the stage after the Restoration.
This record's DOI: https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.11582