Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name




Degree Program

English, MA


English literature--Early modern, 1500-1700


Before entering upon a discussion of those writers of the Elizabethan Age whose works present specific instances of Personal Retractation, let us turn our attention to the problem in general and try to find out why writers of this age and of earlier times felt it necessary to repent of their literary efforts. Some critics may say that retractation was merely a literary convention; and why bother about its beginnings, sources, et cetera? Others may have the opinion that it was a personal trait, only a means of satisfying some peculiar whim or fancy of the author. Some may go even so far as to say it was one of the many tricks or devices which an author used in the attempt to get his works before the reading public. Anyone, or all of these theories, may be true. We cannot say specifically that any one cause led to this old custom of confession in literature. To do so would mean that we are taking a narrow view of the subject. So in this study let us look not for one common cause, but for a combination of causes and interests which led writers of olden times to plainly confess the errors of their ways and to repent of their literary endeavors.