Dekker and Dryden

  • A. J. Gilbert


We have seen how fashionable religious and philosophical prose was influenced by the Ramistic tradition of ‘natural logic’. At the same time, there were writers like Lyly or Andrewes who did not follow the fashion. Their work seems quite out of keeping with later sixteenth and early seventeenth-century prose. It is useful to remember that there are no consistent movements of style in literary language, and archaic styles may be developed and used even when there is one dominant fashion. But Lyly and Andrewes had few imitators; their styles were admired as much for the extreme consistency of their methods, as for the devices of style they made their hallmark. Like all strenuous stylistic effects, their cult of analogy or conciseness came to seem tiresome and arbitrary.1 The value of the Ramistic tradition was that it could take many forms, and it captured some genuine insights into language use. Meaning can be advanced through figurative imagery, and the division between concepts and things can be regarded as trivial. Writers in this tradition were encouraged to look about them with greater care than before; the emphasis on the writer’s own reason and judgement, instead of an emphasis on the importance of a tradition directing his views, gave greater freedom to the imagination. We have already seen a number of varied interpretations of the Ramistic tradition in prose.


Relative Clause Indexical Marker Single Context Logical Invention Restrictive Relative Clause 
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© A. J. Gilbert 1979

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  • A. J. Gilbert

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