New this week: Literary bad boy from the 1500s

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“He married an older and much richer woman whom he badly mistreated; indulged habitually in a life of sexual predation; was repeatedly sued, arrested, and imprisoned; survived several supposed attempts on his life . . .

. . . and died, nearly indigent in 1591.” This, at least, saved him from the indignity of Internet gossip about his goings-on. [Wait, does this count?]

When George Puttenham wasn’t acting the scoundrel, he was writing literary theory, and his The Art of English Poesy, one of the foundations for the study of English literature, provides an intimate view of Renaissance court culture. Frank Whigham and Wayne A. Rebhorn collaborated on Cornell’s edition of Puttenham’s work and have done a spectacular job. Scholars of literature—and aficionados of literary reprobates—will be enjoying this book for years to come.

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