Sunday, December 13, 2009

300. The Unfortunate Traveller – Thomas Nashe

History: Written in 1594, it is a picaresque novel set during the reign of Henry VIII of England.
Plot: The narrator, Jack Wilton, describes his adventures as a page during the wars against the French, and his subsequent travels in Italy as page to the Earl of Surrey. In his travels, Jack witnesses numerous atrocities, including battlefields, plague, and rape: at one point he is nearly hanged, and at another, he is on the point of being cut up in a live anatomy demonstration. Jack's narrative climaxes by describing the brutal revenge taken by one Italian on another, who forces him to pray to the devil and then shoots him in the throat: Jack himself escapes and returns to England.
Review: This is a pretty interesting book. It does have one major problem however, it is written in 16th century English, so it hath been writteneth in thee's and thou's. But if thou hast a reasonable command of the language thou shouldst have gotten into its own gear by about the 20th page.
Opening Line: Abovt that time that the terror of the world, and feauer quartan of the French, Henrie the eight, (the onely true subiect of Chronicles) aduanced his standard against the two hundred and fiftie towers of Turney and Turwin, and had the Empereur and all the nobility of Flanders, Holland, and Brabant as mercenarie attendants on his fulsailed fortune, I Jacke Wilton (a Gentleman at lest) was a certaine kinde of an appendix or page, belonging or appertaining in or vnto the confines of the English court, where what my credit was, a number of my creditors that I coosned can testifie, Cælum petimus stultitia, which of vs all is not a sinner.
Closing Line: “Otherwise I will sweare vpon an English Chronicle, neuer to bee outlandish Chronicler more while I liue. Farewell as manie as wish me well. _Iune_ 27. 1593.
Quotes: Prostrate as holy groutid He worship thee,
Our Ladies chappell henceforth be thou nanid.
Heere first loues Queene put on mortalitie,
And with her beautie all the world inflamed.
"Italy the paradice of the earth, and the Epicures heauen, how doth
it forme our yong master? It makes him to kisse his hand like an ape,
cringe his neck like a starueling, and play at hey passe repasse come
aloft when hee salutes a man."
Rating: Unable to read olde Englishe.

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