Problematics of Custom as Exemplified in Key Texts of the Late English Renaissance

Author: Almasi, Zsolt
Aims at reconciling “custom”, i.e. individual and social fixed patterns of behavior and human freedom, i.e. choice based on the use of reason to the extent that is allowed by the analysis of texts written in English in Early Modern England. The analysis, thus, focuses on the different but still related notions of “custom” as they appeared in the works of Wilkinson and Montaigne.
This multidisciplinary approach, i.e. the combination of philosophy, literary studies and emblem studies opens new perspectives on the interpretation of Early Modern texts, and cultural phenomena.


“Zsolt Almasi’s study of “custom” in early modern English literary and intellectual culture opens us new perspectives on this important topic by means of close readings of four main texts: John Wilkinson’s translation of Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics, John Florio’s translation of Montaigne’s Essays, Francis Bacon’s Advancement of Learning, and William Shakespeare’s Hamlet…..Dr. Almasi brings a genuinely interdisciplinary sense of the intimate relations between various elements of these texts which have hitherto remained for the most part undetected…..This book will be especially important for the questions it raises about the vernacularisation of these writers, particularly Aristotle….Zsolt Almasi has produced a volume which opens up a new path for all early modernists interested in the complex issues revolving around this central theme of “custom”. – Dr. Mike Pincombe, University of Newcastle upon Tyne

“Dr. Almasi’s innovative study of “custom” in the English Renaissance contributes to our better understanding of the intellectual climate of the period. An interdisciplinary approach, such as Dr. Almasi’s that manages to combine the perspectives of philosophy as well as literature, is particularly challenging. Being an expert of 16th century English philosophy and literature Dr. Almasi uses his competence in illuminating how various notions of “custom” are integrated in the early modern mind…..such thematic approach as Dr. Almasi’s is a unique contribution to the history of ideas of the Early Modern Period and I am convinced that both scholars and students will benefit much from the book.” – Dr. Tibor Fabiny, Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Hungary

Table of Contents

Table of Contents:
Acknowledgements, Preface
“Custom” and its Relevance for Renaissance Studies
1. Custom and the Ambiguity of Reason in The Ethiques of Aristotle
2. Custom and Peace in Montaigne
3. Custom and Institution in Bacon
4. “Had I But Time” Time in Hamlet
Conclusion: Custom and Human Freedom