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Literature and the Politics of Family in Seventeenth-Century England
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 (ISBN-13: 9780511267253)

A common literary language linked royal absolutism to radical religion and republicanism in seventeenth-century England. Authors from both sides of the Civil Wars, including Milton, Hobbes, Margaret Cavendish, and the Quakers, adapted the analogy between family and state to support radically different visions of political community. They used family metaphors to debate the limits of political authority, rethink gender roles, and imagine community in a period of social and political upheaval. While critical attention has focused on how the common analogy linking father and king, family and state, bolstered royal and paternal claims to authority and obedience, its meaning was in fact intensely contested. In this wide-ranging study, Su Fang Ng analyses the language and metaphors used to describe the relationship between politics and the family in both literary and political writings and offers a fresh perspective on how seventeenth-century literature reflected as well as influenced political thought.

• An innovative study of how political movements adapted metaphors of the family • Readings of literary texts alongside pamphlets and tracts to show the persistence of the same language • Covers the seventeenth century from Jacobean times to the Restoration


Introduction: strange bedfellows: patriarchalism and revolutionary thought; Part I. Revolutionary Debates: 1. Father-Kings and Amazon Queens; 2. Milton's band of brothers; 3. Hobbes and the absent family; 4. Cromwellian fatherhood and its discontents; Part II. Restoration Imaginings: Interchapter: Revolutionary legacies; 5. Execrable sons and second Adams: family politics in Paradise Lost; 6. Marriage and monarchy: Margaret Cavendish's Blazing World and the fictions of Queenly rule; 7. Marriage and discipline in early Quakerism; Epilogue: the family-state analogy's eighteenth-century afterlife.


'This is a significant study … this is a strong and ambitious monograph and a serious and considered contribution to renewed interdisciplinary study of the familial analogy.' Sue Wiseman, Birkbeck College, University of London

'… pointed and articulate.' Sheila T. Cavanagh, Emory University

'Reading across the boundaries of political affiliation and genre, this book brilliantly elucidates the variable and hotly-contested nature of parallels between family and state in this turbulent period. Literature and the Politics of Family will prove invaluable to scholars of seventeenth-century literature, political culture, and gender politics.' Renaissance Quarterly

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