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Title: Puritanism and literature
Author(s): Keeble, Neil
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Editor(s): Coffey, John
Lim, Paul Chang-Ha
Citation: Keeble N (2008) Puritanism and literature. In: Coffey John, Lim Paul Chang-Ha (ed.). The Cambridge Companion to Puritanism. Cambridge Companions to Religion, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 309-324.
Keywords: Puritanism
Early Modern Literature
Literary Censorship
Issue Date: 2008
Series/Report no.: Cambridge Companions to Religion
Abstract: First paragraph: Puritanism was an intrinsically bookish movement. Just as the spread of Protestantism through Europe in the early sixteenth century was greatly facilitated by, if not dependent upon, the resources of the printing press, so the penetration by Puritanism of the nation’s religious, political and cultural life was achieved primarily through the printed word. Religious works comprised at least half the 100,000 or so titles that represent the total output of the press from the accession of Elizabeth in 1558 to the end of the seventeenth century.1 Of these, a very significant proportion – and during periods in the seventeenth century a majority – were Puritan. They included the century’s bestsellers which sold in unprecedented numbers: Arthur Dent’s fictionalised dialogue The Plaine Mans Path-way to Heaven (1601), went through over thirty editions by 1682; John Ball’s Short Catechisme (1615?) nearly sixty editions by 1689; Richard Baxter’s 600-page treatise on preparing for The Saints’ Everlasting Rest (1650) reached its fourteenth edition by 1688 and his evangelistic A Call to the Unconverted (1658), its twenty-eighth edition by 1696; the first part of John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress (1678) reached its twenty-second edition by the end of the century.2
Rights: This chapter has been accepted for publication and appears in a revised form, subsequent to appropriate editorial input by Cambridge University Press, in 'Puritanism and literature', The Cambridge Companion to Puritanism, 2008, © Cambridge University Press 2008, published by Cambridge University Press.;

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