This 1999 book offers an original study of lyric form and social custom in the Elizabethan age. Ilona Bell explores the tendency of Elizabethan love poems not only to represent an amorous thought, but to conduct the courtship itself. Where studies have focused on courtiership, patronage and preferment at court, her focus is on love poetry, amorous courtship, and relations between Elizabethan men and women. The book examines the ways in which the tropes and rhetoric of love poetry were used to court Elizabethan women (not only at court and in the great houses, but in society at large) and how the women responded to being wooed, in prose, poetry and speech. Bringing together canonical male poets and women writers, Ilona Bell investigates a range of texts addressed to, written by, read, heard or transformed by Elizabethan women, and charts the beginnings of a female lyric tradition.
In this first full-length study of Pamphilia to Amphilanthus, the first sonnet sequence to be written and published by an English woman, Ilona Bell shows that Mary Wroth is a boldly original lyric poet. Bell compares the handwritten private manuscript to the printed text, and shows how Wroth refashioned herself to conceal an earlier, more transgressive, private poetic persona. By exploring interpretive clues provided by Wroth's romance Urania, Bell sheds new light on the links between Wroth's life and writing. Bell traces how Wroth re-conceptualized the private poems of her father Robert Sidney and the influential sonnets of her famous uncle Philip Sidney. Ultimately she discloses that Wroth...
This groundbreaking book combines literary interpretation, gender analysis, and cultural, political, and diplomatic history to examine how Elizabeth I used the discourse of love to establish her political power, assert her right to marry or not, and rule the country herself either way.
The Cambridge Companion to John Donne introduces students (undergraduate and graduate) to the range, brilliance, and complexity of John Donne. Sixteen essays, written by an international array of leading scholars and critics, cover Donne's poetry (erotic, satirical, devotional) and his prose (including his Sermons and occasional letters). Providing readings of his texts and also fully situating them in the historical and cultural context of early modern England, these essays offer the most up-to-date scholarship and introduce students to the current thinking and debates about Donne, while providing tools for students to read Donne with greater understanding and enjoyment. Special features include a chronology; a short biography; essays on political and religious contexts; an essay on the experience of reading his lyrics; a meditation on Donne by the contemporary novelist A. S. Byatt; and an extensive bibliography of editions and criticism.
Regarded by many as the greatest of the Metaphysical poets, John Donne (1572-1631) was also among the most intriguing figures of the Elizabethan age. A sensualist who composed erotic and playful love poetry in his youth, he was raised a Catholic but later became one of the most admired Protestant preachers of his time. The Collected Poetry reflects this wide diversity, and includes his youthful songs and sonnets, epigrams, elegies, letters, satires, and the profoundly moving Divine Poems composed towards the end of his life. From joyful poems such as 'The Flea', which transforms the image of a louse into something marvellous, to the intimate and intense Holy Sonnets, Donne breathed new vigour into poetry by drawing lucid and often startling metaphors from the world in which he lived. His poems remain among the most passionate, profound and spiritual in the English language.
Ever since their rediscovery in the 1920s, John Donne's writings have been praised for their energy, vigour and drama - yet so far, no attempt has been made to approach and define systematically these major characteristics of his work. Drawing on J. L. Austin's speech act theory, Margret Fetzer's comparative reading of Donne's poetry and prose eschews questions of personal or religious sincerity and instead recreates an image of John Donne as a man of many performances. No matter if engaged in the writing of a sermon or a piece of erotic poetry, Donne placed enormous trust in what words could do. Questions as to how saying something may actually bring about that very thing, or how playing th...
Reading Shakespeare’s Poems in Early Modern England
This is the first comprehensive study of early modern texts, readings, and readers of Shakespeare's poems in print and manuscript, Reading Shakespeare's Poems in Early Modern England makes a compelling contribution both to Shakespeare studies and the history of the book. Examining gendered readerships and the use of erotic works, reading practises and manuscript culture, textual forms and transmission, literary taste and the canonisation of Shakespeare, this book argues that historicist criticism can no longer ignore histories of reading.