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Unread Herrings

Thomas Nashe and the Prosaics of the Real

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James Nielson

This book offers a tactical un-reading, or de-interpretation, of the stylistic and rhetorical excess traditionally associated with the Elizabethan pamphleteer Thomas Nashe. It attempts to demonstrate that, for all their verbal and intellectual perversity, Nashe's texts are not actually about themselves but about material reality and ordinary life. Written with an often uproariously Rabelaisian bravura worthy of Nashe himslef, Unread Herrings explores the experience of actually reading Nashe (as opposed to doing readings of him). In a deft reversal of the usual critical strategy, Nielson uses the reality effects in Nashe's premodern prose to interrogate and revise contemporary theoretical conceptions of textuality, and the political and aesthetic dispensations of postmodernism.