Catalogue


Lyric wonder : rhetoric and wit in Renaissance English poetry /
James Biester.
imprint
Ithaca : Cornell University Press, 1997.
description
x, 226 p. ; 24 cm.
ISBN
0801433134 (alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
series title
imprint
Ithaca : Cornell University Press, 1997.
isbn
0801433134 (alk. paper)
catalogue key
1265070
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. [201]-220) and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1997-12:
Biester's is the sixth volume in the "Rhetoric Society" series. Previous books in this series--e.g., Jody Enders's Rhetoric and the Origins of Medieval Drama (CH, Mar'93), which initiated the series, and Wayne Rebhorn's The Emperor of Men's Minds (CH, Sep'95)--have affirmed the significance of rhetoric as "both an important intellectual discipline and a necessary cultural practice." Linking the rhetorical practices of lyric poets, particularly John Donne, to the sense of wonder, which in the Renaissance was associated with both language and action, Biester (Loyala Univ.) proves (in Jacques LeGoff's terms) that "the history of words is history itself." The author does not engage in the discourse of gender, which has characterized much recent work on Renaissance poetry, for instance, Heather Dubrow's Echoes of Desire: English Petrachism and Its Counterdiscourses (CH, May'96), but he convincingly links changing rhetorical conventions to the political circumstances that attended the shift from Elizabethan to Jacobean England. Useful to students of Renaissance drama as well as lyric poetry. Extensive notes; carefully prepared bibliography. Highly recommended for both undergraduate and graduate study. M. C. Riggio; Trinity College (CT)
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Choice, December 1997
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Summaries
Main Description
James Biester sees the shift in late Elizabethan England toward a witty, rough, and obscure lyric style--metaphysical wit and strong lines--as a response to the heightened cultural prestige of wonder. That same prestige was demonstrated in the search for strange artifacts and animals to display in the wonder-cabinets of the period. By embracing the genres of satire and epigram, poets of the Elizabethan court risked their chances for political advancement, exposing themselves to the danger of being classified either as malcontents or as jesters who lacked the gravitas required of those in power. John Donne himself recognized both the risks and benefits of adopting the ?admirable? style, as Biester shows in his close readings of the First and Fourth Satyres. Why did courtier-poets adopt such a dangerous form of self-representation? The answer, Biester maintains, lies in an extraordinary confluence of developments in both poetics and the interpenetrating spheres of the culture at large, which made the pursuit of wonder through style unusually attractive, even necessary. In a postfeudal but still aristocratic culture, he says, the ability to astound through language performed the validating function that was once supplied by the ability to fight. Combining the insights of the new historicism with traditional literary scholarship, Biester perceives the rise of metaphysical style as a social as well as aesthetic event.
Main Description
James Biester sees the shift in late Elizabethan England toward a witty, rough, and obscure lyric style--metaphysical wit and strong lines--as a response to the heightened cultural prestige of wonder. That same prestige was demonstrated in the search for strange artifacts and animals to display in the wonder-cabinets of the period. By embracing the genres of satire and epigram, poets of the Elizabethan court risked their chances for political advancement, exposing themselves to the danger of being classified either as malcontents or as jesters who lacked the gravitas required of those in power. John Donne himself recognized both the risks and benefits of adopting the "admirable" style, as Biester shows in his close readings of the First and Fourth Satyres. Why did courtier-poets adopt such a dangerous form of self-representation? The answer, Biester maintains, lies in an extraordinary confluence of developments in both poetics and the interpenetrating spheres of the culture at large, which made the pursuit of wonder through style unusually attractive, even necessary. In a postfeudal but still aristocratic culture, he says, the ability to astound through language performed the validating function that was once supplied by the ability to fight. Combining the insights of the new historicism with traditional literary scholarship, Biester perceives the rise of metaphysical style as a social as well as aesthetic event.
Unpaid Annotation
James Biester sees the shift in late Elizabethan England toward a witty, rough, and obscure lyric style -- metaphysical wit and strong lines -- as response to the heightened cultural prestige of wonder. That same prestige was demonstrated in the search for strange artifacts and animals to display in the wonder-cabinets of the period.By embracing the genres of satire and epigram, poets of the Elizabethan court risked their chances for political advancement, exposing themselves to the danger of being classified either as malcontents or as jesters who lacked the gravitas required of those in power. John Donne himself recognized both the risks and benefits of adopting the "admirable" style, as Biester shows in his dose readings of the First and Fourth Satyres.Why did courtier-poets adopt such a dangerous form of self-representation? The answer, Biester maintains, lies in an extraordinary confluence of developments in both poetics and the interpenetrating spheres of the culture at large, which made the pursuit of wonder through style unusually attractive, even necessary. In a postfeudal but still aristocratic culture, he says, the ability to astound through language performed the validating function that was once supplied by the ability to fight. Combining the insights of the new historicism with traditional literary scholarship, Biester perceives the rise of metaphysical style as a social as well as aesthetic event.
Table of Contents
Foreword
Introductionp. 1
Strange and Admirable Methodsp. 23
The Most Dangerous Game: Wonder, Melancholy, and Satirep. 67
Suspicious Boldnessp. 94
Powerful Insinuations: Obscurity as Catalyst and Veilp. 128
Passing Wonder or Wonder Passing?p. 155
Bibliographyp. 201
Indexp. 221
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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