William Empson: Essays on Renaissance Literature: Volume 1, Donne and the New Philosophy

Following the success in paperback of William Empson’s Essays on Shakespeare (1986), this first volume of his Essays on Renaissance Literature (1993) now appears in an accessible format. The volume gathers Empson’s passionate and controversial essays on John Donne in the context of contemporary science, and includes previously unpublished pieces on some of the most influential Renaissance writers and scientists. Edited and introduced by leading Empson scholar John Haffenden, this is a book for anyone interested in the Renaissance, the history of science, and the history of literary criticism. ‘Some of these passages have a sweep as grand as Empson found in Donne.’ Eric Griffiths, The Times Literary Supplement ‘Empson’s achievement here as elsewhere comes from the generosity of spirit which made him consistently a great critic.’ The New York Review of Books

• First paperback edition of work by one of the century’s leading critics • Widely reviewed in hardback edition • Edited and introduced by leading Empson scholar


Preface; Sources and acknowledgements; Introduction by JOHN HAFFENDEN; 1. Donne and the rhetorical tradition; 2. Donne the space man; 3. Donne in the new edition; 4. Rescuing Donne; 5. Donne’s foresight; 6. Copernicanism and the censor; 7. Thomas Digges his infinite universe; 8. Godwin’s voyage to the moon; Appendix on Galileo; Notes; Index.