Part history, part gossip, vastly erudite and mostly tedious work dealing with the heirs of Shakespeare and their part in fostering the English Civil War.
Initially, the term Cavalier indicated a well-dressed gallant, but that designation quickly deteriorated into a pejorative illustrating a petulant, disdainful, violent-minded dandy. Stubbs (John Donne: The Reformed Soul, 2007) focuses primarily on the lives and works of poet John Suckling and William Davenant, Shakespeare’s godson. These two in particular were witnesses to an age of prodigals and playboys. Stubbs shifts between Suckling and his contemporaries throughout the first half of the book, interjecting the politics and explanations of the works of James Howell, Henry Jermyn, Thomas Hobbes and Inigo Jones, as well as a wealth of contemporary poetasters. Even as he bounces around among authors, artists Van Dyck and Rubens, and the “evil ministers” Laud and Wentworth, Stubbs artistically weaves in the history of the players and their times and especially the deep hatred of everything “papist.” At the same time, he assumes that readers know the basic story of the Scottish Rebellion and the English Civil War. There is quick mention of the battles at Edgehill, Marston Moor and Naseby, but only as asides leading to the eventual beheading of Charles I and the restoration of Charles II.
A highly detailed, scholarly work—not for general readers.