Popular 17th Century Books

 

17th Century has been a great period of interest for readers of fascinating histories, romance, fantasy and many more. It is the period of great eminent writers like William Shakespeare, Molière, John Milton and many more. Books written during 17th Century is being reminisced by everyone till date.

 

Hamlet

Hamlet is one among the top 10 books of 17th century. It is a story of madness and revenge. It exhibits the bonds of family loyalty, sacrifices of love, breaches of trust and their deleterious effects on the psyche. It is an epic tale of struggles and complexity of human mind being resolved by throwing light into the instability and unclearness which would flow underneath one’s mind with astounding intricacy.

Read it For:
Clear, subtly nuanced and stunning dramatization of William Shakespeare.
Don't Read it For:
The book may take time to get your understanding but if you have patience you will surely love it.
What makes this book stand out?:
Its action which is served in such perfect complement by its depiction of characters.

Macbeth

In this story, Macbeth commits an evil act and pays an enormous price to become a king. This book taunts us with questions of - Is Macbeth tempted by fate, or by his or his wife’s ambition? Why does their success turn to ashes? It has been applied to nations that overreach themselves to modern alienation. It depicts the blurred line between Macbeth’s evil and his opponents’ good, and the new attitudes toward both witchcraft and gender.

Read it For:
Witchcraft and sorcery and harkens to a pagan past.
Don't Read it For:
This story is little hard to comprehend normally. And if you can't follow the text, then you can't understand what is going on, either.
What makes this book stand out?:
Intriguing ensemble plot and allows you to look in the face of ambition and power.

Paradise Lost

Paradise Lost written by John Milton is one of the popular books of 17th century in the English Language. The story exhibits the Fall of Man in which God and Satan fight a bitter battle for control of mankind's destiny. It deals with intense drama and ecstasy of revolt coupled with the betrayal of innocence pitted against corruption.

Read it For:
Work classic both in scale and notoriously in ambition.
Don't Read it For:
If you fail to understand Christianity terms despite the cited glossaries.
What makes this book stand out?:
Milton's characteristic erudition and its profound influence seen in almost every corner of Western culture

Shakespeare’s Sonnets

Shakespeare’s passion for humans has made his sonnets to be appealing to literati and layman alike. Sonnets, the book, is an exhibit of poems surrounded by mystery unveiling the devotion and jealousy of a young courtier and a Dark Lady.

Read it For:
Experiencing the emotions you're being led to and making your own poetry within the meaning you grasp.
Don't Read it For:
If you aren’t ready to get in-depth to explore and find the meaning behind every word as there is a web to entangle your senses and perception.
What makes this book stand out?:
Its way of narration by unveiling a secret map with hidden clues that lead to precious treasures.
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The Misanthrope

The Misanthrope is one of the greatest of all comedies and best selling books of 17th century written by Molière. The Misanthrope shows us a man who is quick to criticize the hypocrisies, inconsistencies, and faults of others yet remains blind to his own. As "The Misanthrope" grows more and more irritable with others, the play becomes more and more entertaining, even as a happy ending for the hero seems less and less likely.

Read it For:
Common undercurrents of misanthropy across cultural borders.
Don't Read it For:
Expecting traditionally flat characters used by most satirists to criticize problems in society.
What makes this book stand out?:
More focus on character development and nuances than on plot progression.

Antony and Cleopatra

This story describes the major event in world history: the founding of the Roman Empire. Caesar cold-bloodedly manipulates other characters and exercises iron control over him. The story’s emphasis is on the relationship between Cleopatra and Mark Antony from the time of the Parthian War to Cleopatra's suicide and whom Caesar defeats: Antony and his wealthy Egyptian ally, Queen Cleopatra.

Read it For:
If you are interested in knowing a Roman play characterized by swift, panoramic shifts in geographical locations.
What makes this book stand out?:
One of Shakespeare's most complex female characters, Cleopatra embodied with contradictory features of vain and histrionic along with imbued tragic grandeur.

All’s Well That Ends Well

All's Well That Ends Well is a plot of William Shakespeare revolving around its heroine, Helen who yearns for the love of Bertram. It is a story of one-sided romance, based on a tale from Boccaccio's The Decameron. Helen cures the French King and is rewarded Bertram as her husband despite his disinterest to have Helen as her wife.

Read it For:
Enjoying a witty and interesting comedy plot by Shakespeare.
Don't Read it For:
If you are interested in delving into history or tragedy, this story is not meant for it.
What makes this book stand out?:
Inverting traditional gender roles and casting doubt onto common tropes of romantic comedies.

The Alchemist

This story is one of Ben Johnson's best comedy plays. It is considered to be one of the best books of 17th century. The Alchemist narrates the tale of two rogues, one the alchemist who promises people to turn all their items to gold and the other his helper. Matched with a prostitute who fools around with them it makes a comic tale of lust and greed.

Read it For:
The distinctive characters and the plot’s twists and turns in every page.
Don't Read it For:
For many modern readers, some of the satirical elements won't translate particularly well, but a good cast can pull it off without too much of a problem.
What makes this book stand out?:
Biting satire and subtle mockery of social conventions and pretensions in relation to Renaissance social customs.

The Roaring Girl

This story is about the very interesting character of Moll Cutpurse (based on the real-life Mary Frith, aka Moll Cutpurse,) a woman who dressed and behaves in a "manly" fashion. This story emphasizes more interesting underlying social issues, like women and their portrayal in society and reputation/judging others.

Read it For:
Entertaining, complex, and thoughtful story to read for fun and historical context too.
Don't Read it For:
If somewhat difficult read and you're not willing to input the time to research while reading, though it is really funny.
What makes this book stand out?:
The character breaking of gender norms and mainly she is neither executed nor burned for her deeds but celebrated.

The Witch of Edmonton

The story based on a sensational witchcraft trial of 1621, presents Mother Sawyer and her local community in the grip of a witch-mania. A very dramatic play, full of love, murder and witchcraft but firmly situated within a realistic Elizabethan society.

Read it For:
Witchcraft practices, Renaissance Drama and the cultural history of the 17th century
Don't Read it For:
If you don’t pay heed to reading belief and superstition of the time in the 17th century.
What makes this book stand out?:
Switching easily and effectively between cuddy’s rustic low comedy and the chilling words of the devil.

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