The inventions of Sir Thomas Urquhart

Smith, J. (2018) The inventions of Sir Thomas Urquhart. In: Petrina, A. and Johnson, I. (eds.) The Impact of Latin Culture on Medieval and Early Modern Scottish Writing. Medieval Institute Publications. ISBN 9781580442817 (hbk.) 9781580447824 (ebk.)

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Perhaps the most famous – or notorious – practitioner of baroque prose in the Scottish literary ‘canon’ is Sir Thomas Urquhart of Cromarty (1611-1660). Urquhart was seen by contemporaries as primarily a humorous writer, a reputation he has sustained, and it is clear from his later critical reception that an element in this reputation derives from his perceived linguistic inventiveness. This inventiveness is suggested by his presence in the top thousand of cited sources in OED. This chapter argues that Urquhart, though undoubtedly egregious in his deployment of Latinate usages in baroque prose, was by no means alone among his contemporaries. Indeed, it seems certain that his first readers, while undoubtedly amused by his writings, would have seen his outputs as not only within a specific prose tradition but in dialogue with numerous contemporary trends in religious, philosophical and scientific thinking. Contemporary readers may well have laughed; but the cognoscenti would also, surely, have discerned alongside the humour the serious and current issues and concerns that informed Urquhart’s ‘curious’ writings. The chapter demonstrates that there are now productive ways of aligning philological research and the historical study of the social networks of the kind with which Urquhart so evidently and profoundly engaged.

Item Type:Book Sections
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Smith, Professor Jeremy
Authors: Smith, J.
Subjects:P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
College/School:College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > English Language and Linguistics
Publisher:Medieval Institute Publications
ISBN:9781580442817 (hbk.) 9781580447824 (ebk.)
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2018 The Board of Trustees of Western Michigan University
Publisher Policy:Reproduced with the permission of the publisher
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