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Thomas Nashe- His Final Works and his place in English Literature

His Final Works and his place in English Literature

In his pamphlet Lenten Stuffe written in 1598, he complains that “here in the couontrey” he is “bereaued” of his “note-books and all books else”. It is a very intriguing work being a panegyric on Great Yarmouth and his famous staple commodity. On June 1, 1599, Whitgift and Bishop Bancroft issued the order that “all Nasshes bookes and Doctor Harveys books be taken wheresoeuer they maye be found and that none of theire books bee euer printed hereafter”. In 1600 the last work of Nash, Summer’s Last Will and Testament, written eight years earlier, appeared in print. It may even be posthumously published some believe. Thus this brilliant satirist who shocked and delighted literary London with his mordant wit quietly disappeared from the scene. When and where he died and where he is buried are unknown except, In Charles Fitzgeffrey’s Affaniae (1601) he is referred to as already deceased.

The literary critics of 1590s and the next hundred years were concerned with classical learning, legend and history. As a result they compared Nashe with the satirists of ancient Rome. During the first half of the 17th Century, then, Nashe was remembered chiefly as a satirist- the author of Pierce Penilesse, the Witty opponent of the Cambridge scholar Gabriel Harvey, and the champion of the Church of England against Martin Marprelate. Nashe has far more in common with satirical American journalists Art Buchwald or Russell Baker than with Philip Sidney and his numerous followers during the 17th and 18th Century. Unlike Spenser or Milton he had no ambition to write the great English epic or to please the fit though few. Instead, like the columnist of present days he was the interpreter of his own time for the understanding and enjoyment of his reader.


Thomas Nashe By McGinn, Donald Joseph

A History of the Elizabethan Literature- George Saintsbury

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