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Consuming Splendor: Society and Culture in Seventeenth-Century England [Hardcover]

Linda Levy Peck

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Book Description

Sept. 19 2005 0521842328 978-0521842327 1
A fascinating study of the ways in which the consumption of luxury goods transformed social practices, gender roles, royal policies, and the economy in seventeenth-century England. Linda Levy Peck charts the development of new ways of shopping; new aspirations and identities shaped by print, continental travel, and trade to Asia, Africa, the East and West Indies; new building, furnishing, and collecting; and the new relationship of technology, luxury and science. As contemporaries eagerly appropriated and copied foreign material culture, the expansion of luxury consumption continued across the usual divide of the Civil War and the Interregnum and helped to propel England from the margins to the center of European growth and innovation. Her findings show for the first time the seventeenth-century origins of consumer society and she offers the reader an entirely new framework for the history of seventeenth-century England.

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Review

"Consuming Splendor is an appropriately luxurious volume."
-The Times, T2 Supplement

"[Peck's] investigations carry her through a most impressive bibliography of references, brimming over with the most apposite quotations from contemporaries, and stiffened by multitudinous pieces of recent research...her emphasis on the wonders and the variety of the luxuries that burgeoned in the seventeenth century produce a thoroughly convincing argument....Peck's book is a magnificent survey of a luxury-ridden seventeenth century."
-The Economic History Review

"Peck is a distinguished scholar of early modern English political culture whose previous works concerning patronage, corruption and court politics... have been well received by scholars. This work, however, promises to outdo them all. It not only has a catchy title, it also makes powerful arguments that will refashion understanding of the early modern period and the rise of the modern state."
-Choice

"This sumptuous book will doubtless become a classic treatment of seventeenth-century elite consumer culture in England, a volume beautifully illustrated and, in contrast to its topic, moderately priced. The author's extensive knowledge of Jacobean and Stuart courts and the careers of powerful personages, like Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel, provide a unique context, with scenes richly figured by courtiers, virtuosi, and kings' favourites, their tastes shaped by Italy and France. The extensive illustrations are integral to many of the thematic sectors of the book...Linda Levy Peck addresses shopping, the cultivation of new tastes, the built environment --importantly, considering luxury expenditures on churches-- and explores the exceptional influence of the continent on English exiles, visitors, and their correspondents."
-Canadian Journal of History

"...she sustains her major thesis convincingly. Her work and other recent studies have broadened the period within which modern consumption patterns can be seen to have emerged and have shown the centrality of elite culture in creating modernity in all its forms... an important contribution...."
-Journal of Interdisciplinary History

"This sumptuous book posits nothing less than a reappraisal of the standard narrative of the history of seventeenth-century England... effectively puts paid to the notion that it was the eighteenth century that invented modern consumer culture. Rather, that culture was fostered a century earlier by the much-maligned Stuart court."
-The Historian

"Beautifully illustrated and full of fascinating detail, Consuming Splendor makes important claims that should give rise to wide debate."
- Journal of Social History, Pauline Croft, Royal Holloway University of London

"Linda Levy Peck's much-anticipated study of the place of luxury, especially luxury goods, in seventeenth-century England is itself a beautifully produced publication from Cambridge University Press.... This book is an important study of the material world in seventeenth-century England and will be required reading for anyone contemplating the topics that Peck addresses here. Moreover, her work has properly placed yet another crucial development in the course of early modern England's rise to global power in the appropriate context-the early seventeenth century, prior to and during the Civil War and Interregnum."
- Journal of British Studies, Sabrina Alcorn Baron, University of Maryland

"...Peck's book offers a comprehensive, highly readable, and informative study of what seventeenth-century England desired, bought, and collected." -Rachel Ramsey, Assumption College

"This is a splendid survey of a complex issue and should inspire further interdisciplinary studies to extend the reassessment of economic politics further back into the sixteenth century." --Rebecca S. More, Brown University: Renaissance Quarterly Review

Book Description

A fascinating study of the ways in which consumption transformed social practices, gender roles, royal policies, and the economy in seventeenth-century England. It reveals for the first time the emergence of consumer society in seventeenth-century England.

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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Illuminating look at consumerism, 1600-style March 12 2007
By Rolf Dobelli - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
If you think conspicuous consumption is a modern trend, or that globalization and outsourcing are recent phenomena, historian Linda Levy Peck has news for you. In this study, she explains that the English folk of four centuries ago were ever eager to keep up with the Joneses by blowing some of their disposable income on silks, paintings, chocolate and other pricey items that weren't exactly necessities. Indeed, their appetite for the finer things helped pave the way for today's mass materialism and international trade. A taste for fancy goods isn't so new, nor is debate over what shopping means to the structure of society. Levy Peck's professorial prose is dense, but her theme is eye-opening. We recommend this overview to anyone who'd like to understand what motivates consumers now and has motivated them for centuries.

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