Andrews, Robyn P. (1982)
A critical edition of The Compleat Gentleman (1622) by Henry Peacham.
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This edition of The Compleat Gentleman (1622) by Henry Peacham comprises introduction, text, and commentary. The introduction describes Peacham's life and the literary and historical context of the book. The Compleat Gentleman is placed in the tradition of courtesy literature and Peacham's ideal of an enlightened, cultivated, and public-spirited gentleman is considered. In many ways the book sums up the earlier ideal of training of the Tudor humanists. Sir Thomas Elyot's Gouernour (1531) is revealed as both source and inspiration for Peacham; the more general influence of other sixteenth-century English and European humanists is discussed. Peacham's audience, the children of the gentry and the emerging middle classes, saw that social and economic advancement required education. Their needs are considered in the light of the many different subjects covered by The Compleat Gentleman. Particular attention is paid to Peacham's treatment of the 'inflation of honours' and to his chapter on antiquities which provides one of the earliest accounts of antiquarian concerns in England. Peacham's scholarship and literary style are treated in some detail. The reputation of The Compleat Gentleman is outlined and the introduction concludes with a bibliographical description of the book.
The present edition sets out a text as close as possible to the author's original intentions. Fifteen copies of the first edition have been collated against the copy-text and the second (1627) and third (1634) editions, which appeared in Peacham's lifetime and were revised and expanded by him, have been investigated. An apparatus criticus accompanies the text. Press-variants and historical collation are included in the appendix.
The Compleat Gentleman is full of quotations, many of them in Latin, and unacknowledged borrowings. His sources range from Virgil to Pindar, Scaliger to Puttenham. He draws on compilations, compendia, and other forms of popular literature. The commentary identifies these sources and elucidates the book where necessary.
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Institution: University of London, Bedford College (United Kingdom).