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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume IV. Prose and Poetry: Sir Thomas North to Michael Drayton.

XVI. London and the Development of Popular Literature

§ 3. Nashe’s Anatomie of Absurditie

One of the next efforts was an examination of the age by Thomas Nashe, in The Anatomie of Absurditie (1588). The work is a prolix and erratic satire, coloured by touches of euphuism and confused by innumerable digressions. But, amongst an arraignment of feminine character, in the manner of The Schole-howse of Women, a defence of fabulists, an interpretation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, a discussion on diet, an invective against ballad-mongers and the customary defence of poetry, the writer vigorously criticises classical pedantry as one of the great errors of the age; while his thoughts on study and conduct, with the assertion that “the fruits of our private studie ought to appeare in our publique behaviour,” and the warning to “think not common things unworthy of thy knowledge,” foreshadow a literature of counsel and reflection which Bacon was to realise. But, for the moment, London was agitated by controversy, and the public looked for satire and invective only. So Nashe turned to the ruder and more profitable trade of lampoonist.