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A survey of the intellectual world of that central period of the Renaissance which Haydn calls the ""counter revolution"" -- a scholarly work, of tremendous scope and challenging conclusions, somewhat at odds with other students of the period. He sees the period, chiefly centered in the 16th century, as in rebellion against the humanism of the first phase of the Renaissance, but rooted deeply in that era, and providing in its turn the springboard for the third panel of Scientific Reformation. He surveys the contradictory character of the Elizabethans, the historical, political, ethical aspects of rejection and rebellion. He sees this period as anti-intellectual, anti-moralistic, anti-authoritarian, a revolt against reason, one sweeping movement penetrating theology, literature, natural sciences, demanding first hand experience, the faith of the lowly. Paradoxes were many and he illustrates in the work of such eminent writers as Donne and Bacon, Machiavelli and Montaigne, Rabelais, Luther, Calvin, Shakespeare. He sees the Counter Revolution in the field of law- of the vanity of learning- of science- and explores its conflicts. The final chapters make signal contribution and a somewhat fresh interpretation of Shakespeare, who used the conflicts of his day for dramatic purposes, as evidenced (by Haydn) in Hamlet, King Lear, Othello- and some of the historical dramas. The intellectual world which he studies here was Shakespeare's world, and though he does not claim him solely as representing the Counter Revolution, he sees him as one of its many facets. A book for scholars.

Pub Date: April 17th, 1950
Publisher: Scribner