These four authors are studied as exemplars of a literature of negation of dominant trends in modern culture and of a certain conception of literature. Specifically, each is shown to write in order to contest the post-Renaissance ideology of instrumentalist rationalism. This is a new integration of ideas in a single work with a strong historical and theoretical framework. The work demonstrates the persistence, since the 17th century, of intellectual and ethical issues considered vitally important today. The book should interest specialists on each of the authors, students of literary theory, and scholars interested in cultural criticism.