The years of the British Civil War and Interregnum constituted a turning point not only in the political, social, and religious history of seventeenth-century England but also in the use and meaning of English language and literature. Smith examines literary output from the age from Milton's Paradise Lost to epics and romances, to psalms and hymns. This highly original book explores the effect of politics on the practice of writing and the impact of literature on patterns of historical change. "Whether dealing with gallant love-lyrics by Herrick or Lovelace or with a major work of the order of Hobbes's Leviathan or Paradise Lost, Smith shows the same sensitivity to inner tensions and topical resonances. He has done a signal service to all students of this watershed period."-Anthony Curtis, Financial Times "A valuable new study. . . . [This] well-researched book provides an impressive survey of the period's varied literature and shows how its generic innovations were a creative response to the crises of the 1640s and 50s. . . . Thanks to Smith, we now have a richer, more complete account of the ways literature and political culture interacted during this unsettled age of civil war, reformation and revolution."-David Loewenstein, Times Literary Supplement "Cogently and with a daunting range of examples, Smith demonstrates how "Smith takes a relatively overlooked period in England's literary history . . . and reminds us of its vitality and centrality. His theory, which is solid if not profound, asserts a peculiar correspondence between art and society. Smith's work is important simply because of its intense focus on this tumultuous period in literary and social history."-Virginia Quarterly Review "An impressive and gracefully written book which cannot help but enlighten its readers."-D. R. Woolf, Canadian Journal of History Nigel Smith is Fellow and Tutor in English at Keble College, Oxford.