The Golden Age (Narratives of Empire, Book 7)


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Romances of Chivalry in the Spanish Golden Age / by Daniel Eisenberg

In order to make the description more vivid and concrete, each of the themes is represented by or embodied in more precise case-studies which concentrate on the material culture of the Republic.


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There can be little doubt that The Embarrassment of Riches is an outstanding piece of history. The book originated as a course of lectures at Harvard, and retains much of the immediacy and the informality of the spoken word. An observer at once detached and sympathetic, never at a loss for a striking phrase or a bold hypothesis, Schama offers his readers an unforgettable guided tour of Dutch culture.


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Like a good Durkheimian, he is a particularly acute observer of rituals. These rituals are part of the cultural context of the group portraits of the schutterij by such artists as Bartholomeus van der Helst or Frans Hals. To the modern eye, Hals may appear to be satirising the militia, presenting their officers as knights of the knife and fork rather than the sword, better-equipped to do battle with the roast beef than with the Spaniards.

I would not care to dismiss such an interpretation out of hand, for by the later 17th century, if not before, there were critics of the militia companies who saw them as existing primarily for the sake of their feasts. All the same, the gestures of the officers, forks and glasses in hand, will seem less self-evidently absurd to anyone who has read van Alkemade or Schama and is aware of the importance of festival rituals in 17th-century culture.

This example is very far from being the only one in which Schama juxtaposes the evidence of contemporary writers with that of artists. Indeed, abetted by his publisher, who has provided no fewer than illustrations, he has taken the decision to privilege visual sources. He draws on a wide range of contemporary images, from cheap woodcuts to the expensive sculptures decorating the town hall of Amsterdam now the royal palace , from Pieter de Hooch, the painter of interiors, to Romeyn de Hooghe, the printmaker.

These images add a great deal to the immediacy of this attractive book. Description, however, is not the only aim of this study. We are also offered a general interpretation. In the 17th century, the Amsterdam House of Correction was a model prison, visited and described by travellers from all parts of Europe.

According to these visitors, any prisoner who failed to work hard enough, sawing brazilwood to supply the dyeworks, would be confined in a special punishment cell which was gradually filled with water so that the prisoner was forced to pump for his life. Of the 17 provinces of the Netherlands which rebelled against Philip II in the s, only the seven northern provinces Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Friesland, Gelderland, Groningen and Overijsel were able to resist the Spanish armies, making good use of their waterlogged terrain for a guerrilla war of combined operations.

Like the United States, the United Provinces was a paradoxical new nation, united by its very resistance to unification. It was only after the revolt had begun that they came to identify themselves as Netherlanders. Like other new nations, the Dutch needed to invent a tradition for themselves, and they did this with the assistance of two myths, the myth of the chosen people and the myth of the ancient Batavians.


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This view is obviously associated with the interpretation of war as a struggle between Protestantism and Catholicism, true religion and false. The myth of the Batavians, on the other hand, is associated with the secular interpretation of the war as a struggle between liberty and tyranny. The idea that the Revolt of the Netherlands led to the Dutch nation, and not the other way round, is not exactly a new one.

This inversion of the conventional wisdom of the 19th century goes back at least as far as The Dutch Nation , a little book published in by that perceptive and witty historian Gustaaf Renier, who is somewhat underrated nowadays but deserves to be remembered, in this country at least, for another essay on national identity with the engaging title The English: are they human? The history and significance of the myth of the Batavians were explored a generation ago by H.

What Schama has done is to weave a skilful and perceptive synthesis out of recent research, and to enrich it with fresh examples and speculative comments. It may be instructive to compare this new book with an earlier essay in synthesis, the work of the great cultural historian Johan Huizinga, whose Dutch Civilisation in the 17th Century was first published in the s. In some ways, the books form a dramatic contrast: Huizinga concise and sober, Schama copious and flamboyant.

Vidal's imagination of American politics "is so powerful as to compel awe. Book in Good Condition, text clean and bright, boards are clean and vibrant, slight pull of the spine at top, small ownership label at top of front, free end paper. DJ in tact, no tears, very little shelf wear, light soiling to top and bottom corners. Yellowing to top front. Both dj flaps have vertical line top to bottom, does not indent on reverse of flaps. Appears to be an intentionally indent line by the publisher, it is too synchronize to be damages. Book in better than good condition, is square, solid, text and boards clean, no soiling, owners label or writing.

DJ very good, some shelf wear top spine area, yellowing at top of dj. Back flap has Printed in U. Book in very good condition, text bright and clean, boards vibrant with light indentation to front, not discolored, hardly visible. No soiling or writing, no owner's labels. DJ clean and bright, small, closed tear at top right front did not repair , some light shelf wear at top and bottom. Empire, ISBN Stated First Random House Edition. Book in very good condition, square, tight, no corners bumped, text and boards are clean and vibrant.

DJ in good condition clean with very little shelf wear. However there is some moisture damage, strictly discoloration to top spine and front cover at top. Did not affect boards, but visible on dj. Book in very good condition, text clean and vibrant, boards good no soiling, very slight pulling of spine at top. DJ Near Mint condition no tear or soiling, protected in Mylar. An exceptional copy.

Great Myths and Legends: The Golden Age of King Midas

September with full line A Near Mint copy, very clean and tight, no soiling no markings, no owner's labels. An excellent copy. Shipping for weight 15lbs. If you need additional information please e-mail, or phone. I have a complete set of pictures for each individual books, if you want to see them let me know and I will e-mail them. A special L Figure 4. Many explanations of the long-lasting popularity of the Sherlock Holmes figure and the detective stories that define him have been offered. One is that the stories recreate the entire 19th-century world before modern technology changed it, a world lost and suffused with nostalgia: the London fog though that is not often referred to in the stories , the gaslights, the hansom cabs, the interplay between the urban setting and the suburban and country estates where many of the crimes take place; the class differences and their markers so neatly observed by Holmes, who draws the exactly right conclusion about them.

Another theory was expressed by John Cawelti, one of the earliest critics to take detective fiction seriously, who says that the classical detectives like Holmes reassure us that crime is an individual affair and the detective will always discover the culprit. The detective always solves the crime, though Holmes admits to Watson he has failed in some cases, but these failures are never written up by Watson. These explanations are applicable to almost all detective fiction. For the continuing appeal of the Sherlock Holmes stories specifically, the character of Holmes himself, as created by Conan Doyle, must be part of the explanation for their endurance.

His quirks, his eagerness, his tricks and devices, his energies, his philosophy, his turn to the violin and cocaine injection charm us all. We want to be in his presence over and over again, and since the actual stories are limited in number, we turn to sequels, prequels, movies, television, graphic novels, and adaptations of all sorts. Ultimately, Sherlock Holmes in any of these later manifestations still seldom disappoints, and if the specific adaptation is, in fact, disappointing, we can take comfort in the knowledge that there will be another one—which may even be better—in the very near future.

The supposed death of Sherlock Holmes in coincides with another expansion of British detective fiction. New fictional detectives appeared regularly in the magazines from to ; there was, understandably, less publication of the genre during World War I, though there was some. The war also brought about the development of the spy novel, which is a separate genre of mystery fiction. Many of the new post-Holmes detective stories followed and, in some cases, developed variations on the structure of Conan Doyle, and many of the new detectives, both male and female, had elements of Sherlock Holmes in them.

Of course, Conan Doyle kept writing the Holmes stories until After World War I the detective story moved in a somewhat different direction from its 19th-century predecessors, into the period that has been called the Golden Age of Detective Fiction. Van Dine.

The period between and is a kind of interregnum in the development of detective fiction in Britain. Thus this period is a convenient marker of the end of the development of 19th-century detective fiction in Britain. Detective fiction also expanded in the United States and in France during these years. In the first book-length study of the detective fiction genre appeared, The Technique of the Mystery Story , by Carolyn Wells, a prolific American writer who wrote many detective novels. Her guide to detective fiction gave a picture of the field just before the golden age began and included references to many still relatively unknown writers and detectives.

When Conan Doyle decided to kill Sherlock Holmes and end the series, the editors of the Strand scrambled to find a substitute for the popular series. They found Arthur Morrison, who is known now mainly for novels of London poverty. He started as an insurance investigator but turns to hiring himself out as a private detective. He is placid, even plodding, though he uses the same techniques of close observation, logical reasoning, and forensic data as Holmes does. Unlike Holmes, however, Hewitt is genial and accommodating and on good terms with the police.

In a few cases, as an independent operator, Hewitt does not report the solution of the crime to the authorities, preferring justice to the law. Following the Hewitt series in , a collaboration between two authors, L. Just as Conan Doyle was trying to get rid of Holmes, the first woman author to create a woman detective broke into print: Loveday Brooke, by Catherine Louisa Pirkis, in — Over the next sixteen years, four more women detectives followed, though only one more was the work of a woman author.

Dorcas Dene was the creation of George R. Sims in Most of these women detectives turn to detective work because they need money to support themselves or their families, or they want to prove the innocence of someone close to them. Not much is known about Catherine Louisa Pirkis other than her prodigious output of dozens of stories and fourteen novels.

Her seven detective stories were originally published in the Ludgate Monthly and collected in the volume The Experiences of Loveday Brooke, Lady Detective in Loveday Brooke, probably in her thirties, comes from the upper classes, but she has been left penniless and makes a living working for a detective agency headed by Ebenezer Dyer.

She is very proper and nearly always wears a simple black dress. She has a sharp mind and uses the traditional methods of rationality and close observation to solve mysteries, which include theft, a mysterious murder for which the police inevitably suspect the wrong person, missing persons, and so forth. Unlike the male detectives, as a woman, she is able to enter the middle- and upper-class houses where the crimes are committed without raising suspicion frequently by disguising herself as a housemaid or a governess and thus is able to uncover mysteries and crimes the male policemen cannot.

The same advantage is given to George R. She begins as an actress but ultimately works as a private investigator, encouraged by a retired superintendent of police, in order to support herself, her mother, and her husband an artist who loses his sight. She is much like Sherlock Holmes, good at disguises, ratiocination, and following physical clues, and she has her own Watson, a dramatist named Saxon.

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Lois Cayley was the creation of Grant Allen, a well-known author during the s and perhaps best known now as the author of the New Woman novel The Woman Who Did , that is, the woman who chooses to live with man and have a child by him without being married. Rather, as a detective, she ends triumphantly. Quite appropriately, she tells her own story.

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In the final episode, she rescues her beloved Harold Tillington from a plot against him. Like Lois Cayley, she is educated a graduate of Cambridge with a medical degree , beautiful, and adventurous. She becomes a detective when she saves her companion, an older woman, from a blackmailer. In , Bodkin published The Capture of Paul Beck , in which his two detectives appear as rivals in a case, but at the end they marry, thus becoming the first husband-and-wife detective team.

The last of the women detectives during this interregnum between Sherlock Holmes and the golden age is Lady Molly of Scotland Yard. She married an Englishman and began writing to help support her family. She is best known as the author of the Scarlet Pimpernel historical novels, but she also wrote two detective series, The Old Man in the Corner — and Lady Molly of Scotland Yard — Most of the stories that make up these two series were first published in the Royal Magazine starting in and then collected into volumes.

Her advantage in solving that first case when the male detectives could not is that she is able to recognize clues in common domestic activities. One of the first of the armchair detectives, he solves all his cases while sitting in the A.

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A young woman journalist, Polly Burton, tells him details from cases that the police cannot make sense of and also narrates his cases for the reader, though when the early cases are collected into a volume, they are all narrated in the third person. He solves them all without leaving his corner table and, perhaps due to his contempt for the police, does not bring the perpetrators to justice. The first six stories, published in the Royal Magazine in , were followed by seven more in and a few more in The third group was the first to appear as a volume, The Case of Miss Elliott , named after the first story, in The first two series were finally published in volume form as The Old Man in the Corner in Figure 5.

Austin Freeman in and this was followed four more volumes of collected stories. Freeman himself was a doctor who served in Africa and World War I. His detective, Dr. John Evelyn Thorndyke, first appears in eight stories in which he uses his medical skills and diagnostic technology—like the microscope and chemical analysis—aided by his laboratory assistant, Nathaniel Polton, and his friend Christopher Jervis, the narrator of the stories, to solve crimes. The Dr.

Thorndyke stories. There were two more collections in and He thus serves as a bridge between the 19th-century beginnings and 20th-century developments. As a Roman Catholic priest, Father Brown is one of the first detectives identified by something other than his detective skills. He is an outsider of sorts in both the history of detective fiction and in the rural countryside village in Essex where he lives.

With his identifying umbrella, he looks harmless enough--somewhat eccentric, dumpy in appearance, and seemingly scatter-brained. These superficial traits serve him well as a detective, for on first sight no one thinks him capable of solving crimes. But he has razor-sharp Holmesian powers of observation and logical thinking. Father Brown, who is carrying a valuable silver cross set with sapphires, tricks Flambeau, whom he decides is a criminal by observing a bulge in his coat, into trying to steal the cross which Father Brown manages to send to a friend , and leaves a trail salt in the sugar bowl, cup thrown at a restaurant wall, and so forth for Valentin and the police to use to follow him and Flambeau, who is then captured.

Eleven stories followed this one and were collected into the volume The Innocence of Father Brown in During the 19th century, some detective stories may have been mentioned or even discussed in the periodical press, especially to take account of the popularity of the genre.

British Detective Fiction in the 19th and Early 20th Centuries

Some authors of detective fiction and a few literary critics began to write about the genre as a genre in the early decades of the 20th century. The authors of these articles and books generally drew their examples from all of detective fiction—19th century, 20th century, British, American, and French.

Starting after World War II, literary critics and some sociologists turned their attention to the genre with a number of important studies. In the second half of the 20th century and under the pressures of feminism and the academic interest in the role of popular literature in culture, an expansion of writing about and publishing of 19th-century British detective fiction resulted.

Narratives of Empire Series by Gore Vidal

All these approaches to detective fiction proliferated in the 21st century, particularly the postcolonial lens. The early critical studies of detective fiction were often written by authors of detective fiction. After the hiatus of the war and the flourishing of the golden age in the s, another book-length study was Masters of Mystery: A Study of the Detective Story , by H. Douglas Thomson A more comprehensive survey was a collection of essays by different writers and critics edited by Howard Haycraft in , Murder for Pleasure: The Life and Times of the Detective Story.

This collection contains most of the serious work on the genre prior to World War II. In the s and s, the critical attention increased again, this time in universities. Julian Symons, himself a crime fiction writer, produced Bloody Murder: From the Detective Story to the Crime Novel in revised and updated in and and published in the United States as Mortal Consequences , which is regarded by some as the best introductory material to study of the genre.

In a collection of critical essays edited by Robin Winks, Detective Fiction: A Collection of Critical Essays , brought together some of the more well-known commentaries on the genre. The 19th-century texts discussed in these surveys are those of Poe and Conan Doyle, as well as Dickens and Collins. In fact, most often 19th-century British detective fiction was only one part of the midth-century detective studies, and the focus is almost always on Poe and Conan Doyle. For example, the important study of the structures, themes, and consequences of popular culture, Adventure, Mystery, and Romance , by John G.

Cawelti, has two of nine chapters on the classical detective story, but the only 19th-century texts used in the analyses are those of Poe and Conan Doyle. Another important work, Form and Ideology in Crime Fiction , by Stephen Knight , also limited the examples from the 19th century to Poe and Holmes.

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