Henry Reynolds - Biography and Works

Henry Reynolds (1564-1632) was an English poet and a literary critic of the seventeenth century. The author of "Mythomystes" defends the ancient writers against the modern writers and poets. Like Sidney, he defends poetry because of its allegorical content. Reynolds’s beliefs are similar with the ideas presented in Jonathan Swift’s "The Battle of Books".

Reynolds sees the deep insight on the part of ancient writers and hollowness on the part of moderns. He is critical to those moderns who learn only style, phrase and manner of expression from the ancients. For him, the moderns only lay emphasis on formal concerns because they lack the content of ancients which is full of wisdom and knowledge. He is much interested in the hidden content of ancient works – secretes and mysteries of most high divinity, hidden and concealed under the book and rude over of the words. The work of the moderns who are ignorant of these mysteries remains trivial for him. He defense on Neo-Platonic and occult allegorizations of myth and literature because it is the praise of the ancients and attack on the shallowness of moderns.

Reynolds criticizes Bacon for offering learned interpretations of ancient fables on the one hand and doubting on the other that they really contain arcane wisdom. All in all, he believes that the ancient excelled more than the moderns because they studied wisdom. In fact, they held it in such great respect that they concealed it by allegory from vulgar minds.

Henry Reynolds Study Center


Mimetic Theory: Introduction