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Sonnet sequences and social distinction in Renaissance England /
Christopher Warley.
Cambridge ; New York, NY : Cambridge University Press, 2005.
xi, 240 p.
More Details
Cambridge ; New York, NY : Cambridge University Press, 2005.
general note
Series numbering inferred from publisher's listing.
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2006-03-01:
Readers of this book should be warned at the outset that their acceptance of Warley's conclusions will be governed largely by their attitude toward Marxist literary criticism. Warley (Oakland Univ.) applies the Marxist approach uniformly to the sonnets of Anne Lok, Sidney's Astrophel and Stella, Spenser's Amoretti, Shakespeare's sonnets, and Michael Drayton's Idea; also considered are Spenser's Epithalamion, three sonnets of Milton, and Lady Mary Wroth's Pamphilia to Amphilanthus. In Warley's view, all of these works are about social class distinctions and conflicts: "I insist throughout that one cannot talk about Renaissance sonnet sequences without talking about social distinction." Procrustean approaches such as this often raise more questions than they answer. In this case, for example, are the lovers' conflicts in Sidney's sonnet sequence and the love triangle in Shakespeare's sonnets really primarily due to class conflicts, or is Warley sometimes guilty of overreading his text to find support for a preconceived idea? Too often the reader suspects the latter. Such revisionist approaches should serve as warnings about the one-size-fits-all approach to literary criticism. Though Warley includes endnotes, the lack of bibliography is both annoying and confusing. ^BSumming Up: Optional. Graduate and research collections. L. L. Bronson emeritus, Central Michigan University
Review Quotes
'... a bold book that should be welcomed by anyone keen to open up debate about the early modern period.' Times Literary Supplement
"...his voice commands attention." - Gordon Braden, University of Virginia
Review of the hardback: '... a bold book that should be welcomed by anyone keen to open up debate about the early modern period.' Times Literary Supplement
Review of the hardback: 'This is a fascinating, groundbreaking work, which should permanently adjust our view of the early modern sonnet sequence.' Shakespeare Quarterly
'This is a fascinating, groundbreaking work, which should permanently adjust our view of the early modern sonnet sequence.' Shakespeare Quarterly
"Warley's book is interesting and highly provocative...His close attention to multiple meanings of significant terms and his prolific research is impressive." --Mary Keating, Cape Berton University: Renaissance Quarterly Review
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, March 2006
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Description for Bookstore
Christopher Warley argues that the formal tensions of the Renaissance sonnet sequence allowed poets to describe and invent new kinds of social distinction. Warley examines the social assumptions embedded in sonnet sequences, and offers a valuable contribution to the study of the social and cultural resonances of lyric forms.
Main Description
Since the 1970s there has been a broad and vital reinterpretation of the nature of literary texts, a move away from formalism to a sense of literature as an aspect of social, economic, political, and cultural history. While the earliest New Historicist work was criticized for a narrow and anecdotal view of history, it also served as an important stimulus for post-structuralist, feminist, Marxist, and psychoanalytical work, which in turn has increasingly informed and redirected it. Recent writing on the nature of representation, the historical construction of gender and of the concept of identity itself, on theatre as a political and economic phenomenon, and on the ideologies of art generally, reveals the breadth of the field. Cambridge Studies in Renaissance Literature and Culture is designed to offer historically oriented studies of Renaissance literature and theatre which make use of the insights afforded by theoretical perspectives. The view of history envisioned is above all a view of our history, a reading of the Renaissance for and from our own time. Book jacket.
Main Description
Why were sonnet sequences popular in Renaissance England? In this study, Christopher Warley suggests that sonneteers created a vocabulary to describe, and to invent, new forms of social distinction before an explicit language of social class existed. The tensions inherent in the genre - between lyric and narrative, between sonnet and sequence - offered writers a means of reconceptualizing the relation between individuals and society, a way to try to come to grips with the broad social transformations taking place at the end of the sixteenth century. By stressing the struggle over social classification, the book revises studies that have tied the influence of sonnet sequences to either courtly love or to Renaissance individualism. Drawing on Marxist aesthetic theory, it offers detailed examinations of sequences by Lok, Sidney, Spenser, Shakespeare and Milton. It will be valuable to readers interested in Renaissance and genre studies, and post-Marxist theories of class.
Table of Contents
Prefacep. x
Sonnet sequences and social distinctionp. 1
Post-romantic lyric: class and the critical apparatus of sonnet conventionsp. 19
"An Englishe box": Calvinism and commodities in Anne Lok's A Meditation of a Penitent Sinnerp. 45
"Nobler desires" and Sidney's Astrophil and Stellap. 72
"So plenty makes me poore": Ireland, capitalism, and class in Spenser's Amoretti and Epithalamionp. 101
"Till my bad angel fire my good one out": engendering economic expertise in Shakespeare's Sonnetsp. 123
"The English straine": absolutism, class, and Drayton's Ideas, 1594-1619p. 152
Afterword: Engendering class: Drayton, Wroth, Milton, and the genesis of the public spherep. 175
Notesp. 185
Indexp. 232
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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