Early Modern Literature

Cervantes: Don Quixote

Don_Quichotte_Honoré_Daumier cc Wikipedia user YelkrokoyadeDon Quixote is a Spanish novel by Miguel de Cervantes, published in two volumes in 1605 and 16015. It is one of the most highly regarded novels ever written, and its satire of earlier prose romances influenced the realism of the developing form.

The title character is an elderly gentlemen of La Mancha who is driven out of his wits by his reading of popular chivalric romances, and embarks on a series of picarasque adventures, accompanied by the more worldly Sancho Panza. The work has been subjected to many interpretations. Some suggest that like the earlier picaresque genre, it reflects the breakdown of feudalism and the emergence of commercial society.

Don Quixote at Amazon

Free online texts

English translations

Gutenberg: The History of Don Quixote, Part One | Part Two, translated by John Ormsby (1885). HTML, EPUB, MOBI and TXT formats.

Gutenberg: The History of Don Quixote de la Mancha, translated by Peter Motteux. HTML, EPUB, MOBI and TXT formats.

Internet Archive: The Ingenious Gentleman, Don Quixote of La Mancha, translated by John Ormsby (1885). EPUB, TXT, MOBI (Kindle) and PDF formats.

University of Adelaide: Don Quixote, translated by John Ormsby (1885), with illustrations by Gustav Doré. HTML, EPUB and MOBI (Kindle) formats.

Wikisource: English translation by John Ormsby. HTML and other formats.

Spanish texts

Biblioteca Virtual Miguel de Cervantes: Don Qvixote [sic] de la Mancha. First Part. Second part. Edition of Rodolfo Schevill and Adolfo Bonilla. HTML format.

Centro Virtual Cervantes: Don Quijote de la Mancha. HTML format.

Wikisource: Spanish text. HTML and other formats.

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Spenser: The Faerie Queene

800px-Etty_Britomart_1833The Faerie Queene is an epic poem by Edmund Spenser in six books, of which the first three were published in 1590, with the rest appearing in 1596. Spenser drew on Arthurian legend and contemporary Italian epic to create a poem celebrating the court of Elizabeth I, who appears in the form of the Faerie Queene herself, Gloriana, whose knights pursue a series of quests with strong allegorical elements.

The Faerie Queene at Amazon

Free online texts

Gutenberg: The Faerie Queene, Book I. HTML, EPUB, Kindle and TXT formats. See also this alternative edition.

Internet Archive: Spenser's Faerie Queene, illustrated by Walter Crane. George Allen (1895-97). EPUB, TXT, MOBI, PDF and other formats.

Internet Archive: The Faerie Queene, Vol. I | Vol. II. Clarendon Press (1909). EPUB, TXT, MOBI, PDF and other formats.

Internet Archive: The Faerie Queene, Vol. I | Vol II. Everyman's Library Edition (1910). EPUB, TXT, MOBI, PDF and other formats.

University of Adelaide: The Faerie Queene. HTML, EPUB, TXT and Kindle formats.

Wikisource: The Faerie Queene - incomplete. HTML and other formats.

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Milton: Paradise Lost

William_Blake_-_The_Temptation_and_Fall_of_Eve_(Illustration_to_Milton's_'Paradise_Lost')_-_Google_Art_ProjectParadise Lost is an epic poem by John Milton, originally published in 1667 in ten books, with a second edition in twelve books following in 1667.

It tells the story of Satan's fall from heaven and the temptation of Adam and Eve. Blake wrote of Milton that 'he was of the Devil's party without knowing it' because of his portrayal of Satan as a charismatic antihero. Many critics have seen an underlying tension between Milton's affirmation of divine authority against Satan's rebellion and his support for an English Commonwealth founded on rebellion against the Stuart monarchy.

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Free online texts

Dartmouth College: Paradise Lost. HTML format.

Gutenberg: Paradise Lost. HTML, EPUB, Kindle and TXT formats.

Internet Archive. English Minor Poems, Paradise Lost, Samson Agonistes, Areopagitica. Britannica Great Books edition. EPUB, TXT, MOBI and PDF formats.

University of Adelaide: Paradise Lost. HTML, EPUB, TXT and Kindle formats.

Wikisource: Paradise Lost. Multiple editions. HTML and other formats.

Other Resources

Librivox: Paradise Lost | Paradise Lost (version 2) - public domain audiobooks.

Wikipedia: John Milton - Paradise Lost

The Great Conversation: Further reading at Tom's Learning Notes

Milton: Paradise Regained

The Bible: Genesis, Revelation.

Homer: The Iliad and the Odyssey.

Virgil: The Aeneid

Edmund Spenser: The Faerie Queene.

John Aubrey: Brief Lives - includes a life of Milton.

Alexander Pope: The Rape of the Lock.

Samuel Johnson: Lives of the English Poets.

William Blake: The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.

Percy Bysshe Shelley: A Defence of Poetry.

Mary Shelley: Frankenstein.

John Keats: Endymion.

Harold Bloom's Western Canon - Paradise Lost is included.


Milton: Areopagitica

Areopagitica_1644bw_gobeirneAreopagitica is a 1644 polemical essay by the poet John Milton arguing for freedom of the press. Written early in the English Civil War, at a moment when Parliament had broken the authority of Charles I's controls on publishing, it was unsuccessful in dissuading the dominant Presbyterian faction from instituting its own censorship. It nevertheless became a formative influence on later arguments for freedom of speech in the  liberal tradition.

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Free online texts

Dartmouth College: Areopagitica. HTML format.

Gutenberg: Areopagitica. HTML, EPUB, Kindle and TXT formats.

Internet Archive. English Minor Poems, Paradise Lost, Samson Agonistes, Areopagitica. Britannica Great Books edition. EPUB, TXT, MOBI and PDF formats.

Internet Archive. Areopagitica. Clarendon (1894) with notes by John W. Hales. EPUB, TXT, MOBI and PDF formats.

Internet Archive: Essays Civil and Moral and The New Atlantis by Francis Bacon, Areopagitica and Tractate on Education by John Milton and Religio Medici by Thomas Brown. Harvard Classics, Vol 3. EPUB, TXT, MOBI and PDF formats.

University of Adelaide: Areopagitica. PDF, EPUB, TXT and Kindle formats.

Wikisource: Areopagitica. HTML and other formats. See also Harvard Classics edition.

Other Resources

Librivox: Areopagitica | Areopagitica (version 2) - public domain audiobooks.

Wikipedia: John Milton - Areopagitica

The Great Conversation: Further reading at Tom's Learning Notes

Euripides: The Suppliants - quoted at the start of the text.

Isocrates: Areopagitikos - the inspiration for the title of Milton's work.

John Aubrey: Brief Lives - includes a life of Milton.

Harold Bloom's Western Canon: includes the Areopagitica.


John Aubrey: Brief Lives

John_AubreyThe Brief Lives by John Aubrey (1626-1697) are a collection of short biographies of his contemporaries, chosen on eclectic grounds which allowed for the inclusion of personal friends as well as prominent figures from science, philosophy, the arts, politics and high society.

The Brief Lives have long been appreciated for the intimate tone, and personal insights based on interviews with the subjects' acquaintances.

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Free online texts

Gutenberg: Brief Lives Vol. I | Vol. II, edited Andrew Clarke (1898). HTML, EPUB, Kindle and TXT formats.

Internet Archive: Brief Lives Vol . I (Incomplete | Vol. II. PDF, EPUB, TXT and Kindle formats.

Other Resources

Librivox: Brief Lives Vol. I | Vol. II - public domain audiobooks.

Wikipedia: John Aubrey - Brief Lives

The Great Conversation: Further reading at Tom's Learning Notes

Harold Bloom's Western Canon: The Brief Lives are included.


Swift: Gulliver's Travels

800px-Captain_lemuel_gulliverGulliver's Travels is a 1726 work by Jonathan Swift, now most often read in versions adapted for children, but originally a sharp satire of contemperary Europe.

Gulliver's successive encounters with the people of Lilliput, Brobdingnag, Laputa and with the Houyhnhnms, raise questions about the nature and influence of society that contrast, perhaps deliberately, with the individualism of Swift's contemporary, Daniel Defoe, in Robinson Crusoe.

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Free online texts

Gutenberg: Gulliver's Travels Into Several Remote Nations of the World. HTML, EPUB, Kindle and TXT formats.

Internet Archive: Gullivers' Travels. EPUB, Kindle and PDF formats.

University of Adelaide: Gullivers Travels. HTML, EPUB, and MOBI formats.

Wikisource: Gulliver's Travels

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Berkeley: Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous

George_Berkeley._Line_engraving._Wellcome_V0000473Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous is a 1713 philosophical work by George Berkeley, written as a dialogue in which the characters discuss the metaphysical ideas which Berkeley had previously propounded to some criticism in A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge.

The two characters are given Greek names which reflect their respective commitments. Hylas is named after the Greek word for matter and takes a materialist position. Philonous, 'lover of mind', defends an idealist stance which is largely Berkeley's own.

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Free online texts

Early Modern Texts: Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous, adapted and translated into modern English, by Jonathan Bennett. PDF format.

Gutenberg: Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous. Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous (1901). Multiple formats.

Wikisource: Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous. HTML and other formats.

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Berkeley: A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge

George_Berkeley_by_Jonh_SmibertA Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge is a 1710 work by George Berkeley, which sets out an idealist theory of knowledge, similar to that of Locke, in the service of a radically different idealist metaphysics. Berkeley argues that the source of our ideas cannot be material things, but only other ideas, and the ultimate basis of objective reality is therefore the existence of ideas in the mind of God.

A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge at Amazon: United States | Canada | United Kingdom | France | Germany | Spain | Italy

Free online texts

Early Modern Texts: The Principles of Human Knowledge, adapted and translated into modern English, by Jonathan Bennett. PDF format.

Gutenberg : A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge. Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: The Principles of Human Knowledge (1907). Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: The Principles of Human Knowledge, with works by Locke and Hume. (Great Books of the Western World edition, 1937). Multiple formats.

Trinity College Dublin: A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge. Multiple Formats.

Wikisource: A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge. HTML and other formats.

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Hume: Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion

DavidHumeDialogues Concerning Natural Religion, by David Hume (1711-1776), was first published  in 1779. The choice of the dialogue form, modelled on Cicero, as well as its posthumous appearance, reflected the work's far reaching implications for contemporary religious authority.

The three central characters are Cleanthes, an 'experimental theist', typical of eighteenth century progressive theologians, Demea, a traditionalist mystic, and Philo, a radical sceptic, whose views are often taken to be closest to Hume's own. While there is some debate over whether Hume's position entailed strict athiesm, or allowed for some philsopophical conceptions of God such as deism, he is generally seen as hostile to organised religion.

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Free online texts

Early Modern Texts: Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, adapted and translated into modern English, by Jonathan Bennett. PDF format.

Gutenberg: Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, edited by Henry D. Aitken (Hafner Library of Classics, 1948). Multiple formats.

University of Adelaide: Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. Multiple formats.

Wikisource: Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. HTML and other formats.

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Hume: An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals

David_Hume_RamsayAn Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals is a 1751 work by David Hume, which developed the ethical philosophy first expounded in his Treatise on Human Nature. It is often known as as the Second Enquiry, to distinguish it from an Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding.

While the classification of Hume's ethical position remains controversial, it can be described as sentamentalist, in rejecting the view that moral judgements can be founded on reason alone.

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Free online texts

Early Modern Texts: An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals, adapted and translated into modern English, by Jonathan Bennett. PDF format.

Gutenberg: An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals. Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals (1912). Multiple formats.

University of Adelaide: An Enquiry into the Principles of Morals. Multiple formats.

Wikisource: An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals. HTML and other formats.

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