Anglo-Dutch Relations in Early Modern English Literature and Culture
"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
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.
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.