Worlds Apart traces the history of our concepts of the marketplace and the theater and the ways in which these concepts are bound together. Focusing on Britain and America in the years 1550-1750, the book discusses the forms and conventions that structured both commerce and theater. Drawing on a variety of disciplines and documents, Professor Agnew illuminates one of the most fascinating chapters in the formation of Anglo-American market culture.
"This is a wide-ranging, thought-provoking book...It is impossible to illustrate here the width and depth of Agnew's insights. They cover carnival and festive celebrations generally, the Peasants' Revolt of 1381, courtesy books, rogue literature, character books, Francis Bacon, John Bulwer's theory of gesture as the universal communicative medium (1644-9-a new discovery for me), Hobbes (a key figure in Agnew's thesis), Addison, Shaftesbury, and Adam Smith's common sense philosophy. This appears to be Professor Agnew's first book. It is a remarkable achievement." Christopher Hill "...an arresting, stimulating book, ambitious in scope and impressively erudite...It is elegant, original, expansive. A very impressive monograph by a sharp intellect, it should be read by everyone with an interest in the major social themes of early modern culture." American Historical Review "...an important and original work...Agnew is able to demonstrate far more powerfully than previous writers why the new forms assumed by Elizabethan and Jacobean theater were so disturbing to contemporaries and of such enduring power...succeed[s] magnificently in establishing this theater as a prime source of the metaphors out of which a discourse upon capitalism was eventually constructed." The Nation