The Metamorphosis of Ajax, jakes, and early modern urban sanitation

Early English Studies, 2010, online.

This article examines Sir John Harington’s A New Discourse of a Stale Subject, Called The Metamorphosis of Ajax through the lens of urban environmental history, examining the everyday context of Harington’s discourse. It argues that although Harington may have used the work for the political and social commentary discussed by other scholars, he also puts forward a vision of a new physical urban sanitation system to address concerns about disease transmission from exposure to waste. His proposal includes both individually-owned improved flushed privies and government-sponsored sewage systems, a hitherto overlooked element of his program.

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