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What was the purpose of representing foreign lands for writers in the English Renaissance? This innovative and wide-ranging study argues that writers often used their works as vehicles to reflect on the state of contemporary English politics, particularly their own lack of representation in public institutions. Sometimes such analyses took the form of displaced allegories, whereby writers contrasted the advantages enjoyed, or disadvantages suffered, by foreign subjects with the political conditions of Tudor and Stuart England. Elsewhere, more often in explicitly colonial writings, authors meditated on the problems of government when faced with the possibly violent creation of a new society. If Venice was commonly held up as a beacon of republican liberty which England would do well to imitate, the fear of tyrannical Catholic Spain was ever present - inspiring and haunting much of the colonial literature from 1580 onwards.
This stimulating book examines fictional and non-fictional writings, illustrating both the close connections between the two made by early modern readers and the problems involved in the usual assumption that we can make sense of the past with the categories available to us. Hadfield explores in his work representations of Europe, the Americas, Africa, and the Far East, selecting pertinent examples rather than attempting to embrace a total coverage. He also offers fresh readings of Shakespeare, Marlowe, More, Lyly, Hakluyt, Harriot, Nashe, and others.