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Journal > Volumes > 49 (2018) / 3 (Autumn)
Closing the Painful Book: John Bale among the Elizabethans
Oliver Wort
Independent Scholar

The subject of this essay is John Bale’s short-lived experience of the Elizabethan religious settlement and the reception of his work following his death in 1563. In particular, my focus is Bale’s apparent marginalization. Prior to Bale’s death, the poet Barnabe Googe appealed to his friend for quiet, urging him to close the painful book, and where it did survive through reprinting, Bale’s industry might be stripped of his own particular contribution, of his voice. I suggest that the nature of Bale’s textual afterlife was determined in particular ways by the progress of the English Reformation, his rhetoric falling in and out of fashion according to need, and in line with the changing tenor of the Elizabethan engagement with Catholicism. By all means, Bale was to remain an authority after his death, but an authority on the past alone and not as the voice of an ongoing English Reformation.

Pages: 743 - 778