"The year's best utterly non-Shakespearean book [and] among the most interesting books of the year in any category. . . . Doppelgänger Dilemmas is among other things a virtuoso act of archive building."—Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900 [Spring 2016]The Dutch were culturally ubiquitous in England during the early modern period and constituted London's largest alien population in the second half of the sixteenth century. While many sought temporary refuge from Spanish oppression in the Low Countries, others became part of a Dutch diaspora, developing their commercial, spiritual, and domestic lives in England. The category "Dutch" catalyzed questions about English self-definition that were engendered less by large-scale cultural distinctions than by uncanny similarities. Doppelgänger Dilemmas uncovers the ways England's real and imagined proximities with the Dutch played a crucial role in the making of English ethnicity.
"This rich and informed recovery of things Dutch in the fabric of early modern England is indispensable reading for anyone theorizing difference in the early modern period, since it challenges some of our most cherished accounts of English self-definition. It dazzles with its erudition and wit as it reminds us of the dance of similitude—the play of likeness, proximity, and doublings—that is every bit a part of the ongoing movement of identity and identification in early modern England as the more familiar account of anxiety, disavowal, and fear that we have preferred to rehearse. A theoretically nimble study of identity formation, Doppelgänger Dilemmas will most certainly change the way we speak of how the English fashioned themselves a people."—Upstart
"In this ambitious and imaginative book, [Rubright] ranges confidently across cultural forms, from city comedy to cartography, from treatises on language and typography to architecture [in order] to push the study of early modern ethnicity beyond a framework that takes as its principal goal an understanding of emerging nationalism."—Modern Philology
"The work is certain to remain central to the study of English representations of the Dutch for a long time and should be of interest to literary critics and historians alike."—Journal of British Studies
"While establishing the nuances of Dutch influence on the English imagination, Rubright provides a sustained—indeed unprecedented—study of the shared lexicon of both cultures . . . Rubright's methodology of parsing the intricacies of similitude and association should be heeded by all critics of identity formation in cultural productions."—Early Modern Literary Studies
"An excellent contribution to the scholarship of ethnic identity and perception and a much-needed and well-executed consideration of the great and underappreciated influence of Dutch immigrants and culture on the thinking and writing of the English Renaissance."—Appositions
"A gracefully written, thought-provoking, and original book. Although the Dutch were central to how the English understood themselves, they have received surprisingly little attention from those interested in ethnicity and nationhood until now. Doppelgänger Dilemmas revises our understanding of the role the Dutch played in English self-definitions and of how ethnicity was constituted in the early modern period—and beyond."—Frances E. Dolan, University of California, Davis
"Deeply impressive in bringing into view a new and extensive corpus of Dutch interaction in English culture, Marjorie Rubright moves with great intellectual deftness across a large range of conceptual material. Doppelgänger Dilemmas is a clear corrective to the fetish for the 'Other' in early modern studies, and returns us to material that has been overlooked in the scramble for the exotic."—Emma Smith, University of Oxford
Marjorie Rubright explores the tensions of Anglo-Dutch relations that emerged in the form of puns, double entendres, cognates, homophones, copies, palimpsests, doppelgängers, and other doublings of character and kind. Through readings of London's stage plays and civic pageantry, English and Continental polyglot and bilingual dictionaries and grammars, and travel accounts of Anglo-Dutch rivalries and friendships in the Spice Islands, Rubright reveals how representations of Dutchness played a vital role in shaping Englishness in virtually every aspect of early modern social life. Her innovative book sheds new light on the literary and historical forces of similitude in an era that was so often preoccupied with ethnic and cultural difference.
Marjorie Rubright is Associate Professor of English at the University of Toronto.