From the time of John Milton to that of William Blake, the literature of Britain absorbed the impact of two major military developments. In the early modern era, the military revolution strove to establish permanent armies under state discipline and, in England, the resistance to this development exhibited in the controversy over standing armies. In this penetrating and highly original study, Gordon demonstrates that military debate, encouraged by Britains semi-secure insular situation, had a remarkable impact on the British imagination and its narratives. Affected were structure and closure; character evaluation; heroic and mock-heroic styles; attitudes toward love and marriage; and the roles of locality and environment in the shaping of the national and personal character. More remarkable still, these effects signaled the emergence of a civilian consciousness that still influences our literary preference and expectations.
Arms and the Imagination
Essays on War, Politics, and Anglophone Culture