The divorce tracts, which consist of four prose pamphlets published between August 1643 and March 1645, represent a significant and underappreciated development in John Milton's theorizing of liberty. His arguments raise issues not only of family harmony, but also of political commitment. This article explores the emotional and political breakthroughs and sunderings visible in, and prompted by, these texts. Milton's tracts became the centre of a storm of anti-sectarianism, and were held up for ridicule as a harbinger of anarchy. They also engaged the stricken political realm. In recontextualizing Milton's divorce writings, the article places his analysis of irremediable difference, both on a personal and political level, in relation to the practical political work of the day. It also helps to explain the larger, both more local and more philosophical, significance of Milton's analogy between the marriage contract and the contract of civil obedience to the magistrate.
The sketch of prosodic theory presented in this article helps to clarify how the blank verse of Paradise Lost is virtually a new beginning and transmits a quite un-Shakespearean energy. Prosodic analysis shows that John Milton ranges freely within his chosen limits: there is no iambic jog-trot, and the rhythms are endlessly varied. The verse of Paradise Lost is distinguished by the sustained length of its sentences, which are on average about ten lines long, despite the frequent use of short sentences for rhetorical effect. Its blank verse is a deliberate and distinctive creation, influenced by but antithetical to late Shakespeare, through working within a strict discipline. Prosody and syntax are almost inseparable in effect in Paradise Lost.
This article focuses on Spenserian allegory. Comparable to Dante in his importance for allegory, Spenser creatively expanded its potential throughout his literary life. But the experimental vigor of his endeavor is too little acknowledged. While assimilating and building on medieval precedents, the poet's engagement with allegory subsumed diverse influences from the ancients to his own contemporaries in a unique new formulation. The consummate expression of Spenser's allegorical poetic, The Faerie Queene samples and redevelops myriad literary and other texts, forms, and discourses to manifest its own poetic world. Few books read like no others, and this poem's profound allegorism ensures it is one of them.
This article discusses how Amoretti and Epithalamion singly and together clear a space in late Elizabethan poetry. The Amoretti and the Epithalamion establish themselves in relation to an actual event, Spenser's marriage to Elizabeth Boyle of 11 June 1594, more than any other sequence of the period. The Amoretti is unique in representing a courtship that demonstrably leads to a marriage, while the wedding takes place not out of the reader's sight but immediately after the sequence, within the same volume of 1595. The Epithalamion is one of the most successful wedding songs in any European vernacular. The process of the Epithalamion is to narrate the wedding day not only as an event in itself but as an intersection of social and mythological significance, as though Edmund Spenser's marriage to Elizabeth Boyle mattered equally to the townspeople, distant merchants, and classical figures such as Hymen and Hesperus.
One of Donne's compositions the Anniversary Poem is the focus of this article. The literary record of the life and death of Mistress Elizabeth Drury might have been a very dull affair, soon forgotten by all but members of her family. Dead shortly before her fifteenth birthday, unknown to the world for any notable action or attribute, her passing might have been lamented in the conventional terms of pastoral elegy. Instead, her poetic monument, made public in print, instantly, by its extravagant strangeness shook the literary firmament, readers, patrons, and poets. Elizabeth had been buried on 17 December 1610; the first edition of An Anatomy of the World appeared in 1611. This title provides a broad suggestion of its generic affiliations: literary ‘anatomies’, usually in prose, were by no means uncommon in those times. Yet ‘anatomy’ as a renaissance ‘metaphorical label’ is ‘vague, formally, by comparison with the classical genre terms’.
John Milton's five tracts against the idea of bishops in the Church of England argue one essential point: that there is no justification for the position of bishop (as opposed to minister) in the blueprint for Christian churches to be found in the New Testament, and in the Pauline epistles in particular. Milton's views on church government in these early 1640s tracts are grounded in a profound belief in Scripture reading for all and a return to Scripture for church precepts. The anti-episcopal tracts are exercises in discursive zeal: in righteous anger raised against the prelates. The argument of Of Reformation seeks to purify the body of Christ and his Church. Furthermore, the issue of Milton's political allegiances in these tracts is described. The anti-episcopal tracts were an opportunity for the younger poet, in his thirty-third year, to engage in public controversy.
Lara M. Crowley
Archival research on the works of John Donne is the essence of this article. ‘What Printing-presses yield we think good store, but what is writ by hand we reverence more’. Edmund Blunden's translation of Donne's Latin encomium of manuscripts reminds us that Donne composed poetry primarily for a manuscript medium. Traditionally, scholars prized his few extant holographs, but nonholographic copies of Donne's poetry and prose in numerous Renaissance verse miscellanies, commonplace books, and other manuscripts were relatively neglected by scholars prior to the nineteenth century, when pioneers such as Alexander B. Grosart and E. K. Chambers began to consult them. Although manuscript verse collections were often compiled during authors' lifetimes, frequently by members of their literary circles, printed verse collections were usually published posthumously and based on whichever literary manuscript editors or printing houses could obtain. Shami's exciting find illustrates that manuscript archives are rife with potential insights, even discoveries.
The title page of Areopagitica presents the pamphlet as the sort of free political speech that was an integral part of Attic citizenship and liberty. John Milton draws its epigram from a debate between Theseus and the Theban herald in Euripides' The Suppliant Women. One reason why Milton entitled his pamphlet Areopagitica was that he wanted to recall one of the most famous examples of this sort of parrhesia. In Areopagitica, he argues that the Licensing Order is an affront to Englishmen because it deprives them of their Christian and civil liberties in one go. From Areopagitica to The Readie and Easie Way, Milton never shrank from the idea that maintaining the health of the commonwealth might require careful management – and might even necessitate that a Protagoras be purged.
Aristotle’s Poetics has been thought to be inaccessible or misunderstood in sixteenth-century England, but this inherited assumption has drifted far from the primary evidence and lagged behind advances in contiguous fields. As a member of the corpus Aristotelicum, the shared foundation of Western education until the late seventeenth century, the Poetics enjoyed wide circulation, ownership, and interest in Latin and Italian as well as the original Greek. Placing the Poetics in its intellectual context suggests a very different narrative for its reception in English criticism, one that accounts for a multiplicity of readings and uses on both sides of the academic divide. Some of those readings—in Cheke, Ascham, Rainolds, Sidney, and others—are considered in this article, and directions are proposed for future research in what remains a rich and mostly unworked vein of literary history.
Richard A. McCabe
The creation of an authorial ‘persona’ is arguably the principal means by which a poet negotiates his own ‘canonicity’, engaging in a dialogue with posterity through the contemporary reader. It involves not just the textual ‘I’ of the poetic speaker, but the paratextual ‘I’ of the dedicator, commentator, and explicator. This article argues that Spenser's various personae are sophisticated rhetorical devices designed to appropriate the readerly ‘you’ into an appreciative ‘we’. Daniel's 1594 reference to ‘our Spencer’ testifies to the success of the endeavour, but Spenser was equally well equipped to make aesthetic capital out of apparent rejection. To adopt such an approach to self-presentation is to restore it to the rhetorical category of ‘ethos’ or characterization, and particularly to the art of persuasion through characterization. It is to recognize in the illusion of a professedly confessional or lyrical mode an ongoing process of adjustment to the ever-changing demands of genre, circumstance, and audience.
This article investigates the homosexual elegy in the Renaissance. It is primarily concerned with Sir Thomas Wyatt and Earl of Surrey, Spenser, and Mary Sidney. The homoerotics of Thomas Carew's elegy for Dr. John Donne represents one possible way in which literary history and the restitution of loss that is the work of mourning gets figured in the poems. For a contrasting instance, the article turns to Ben Jonson's ‘To the Memory of My Beloved, the Author Mr William Shakespeare: And What he Hath Left Us’. Daniel Juan Gil reminds the consideration that Surrey's poetic stance is a consequential one, not simply to be equated with modernity and with heterosexuality. Furthermore, the understanding on Astrophel's place in the poem and its relationship to heteroerotic representations is provided. It then describes John Milton's Lycidas and the ‘Epitaphium Damonis’, arguably the most significant examples of elegy produced in the early modern period.
Judith Scherer Herz
This article focuses on the idea of two Donnes. Jack and the Doctor...that phrase has reverberated through literary history, although at the very least there should probably be three terms, since it was a third Donne, that is John, keeping a bit of distance from his character, who set the formulation in motion. He did it in 1619, just before setting out for Germany on the Doncaster mission. However, the conception of Donne as two in one did begin to take hold by the middle of the century. In America, as Haskin points out, Evert Duyckinck ‘remarked on the basic compatibility of Walton's two Donnes’, but in ways that are essentially against the Walton grain: to read Donne's life ‘as an illustration of the converting power of religion, is to misunderstand not only Donne, but the spirit of Christianity itself. Certainly there were distinct Donnes, but they inhabited the one Donne.
This article presents an explanation on classical love elegy in the Renaissance. It also mentions that the linkage ‘suggested by the label is something of a category mistake’, and assures that ‘it plays out in literary history, though, as something other than just a mistake’. The Roman love elegies are not notably ‘elegiac’ in the dominant modern sense of the term. The Renaissance enthusiasm is discussed. After the Renaissance, the only major revival of the classical genre in clearly recognizable form comes toward the end of the eighteenth century. ‘Euphrosyne’ is perhaps the kind of poem that ‘love elegy’ in modern usage might most naturally designate: an encounter with a loved one in which intimacy and distance both figure in something like equal measure.
The year 1595 saw the publication of the marriage volume Amoretti and Epithalamion, and a less homogenous volume that contains Spenser's second pastoral, Colin Clouts Come Home Againe, his pastoral elegy on Sir Philip Sidney, Astrophel, and six other pastoral elegies on Sidney, including one that may (or may not) be by Spenser, The Doleful Lay of Clorinda. This article suggests that the 1595 Colin Clout volume is historic as the first book in English literature to feature the national poet as the center of a national community of fellow poets and civic leaders, especially Ralegh and Queen Elizabeth, who were themselves poets. In particular, the book depicts the English poet performing two vital roles as part of a national community: first, in Colin Clout Spenser presents his persona leading the nation because he has undergone a divinely inspired vision of purified erotic desire; and second, in Astrophel and The Doleful Lay he presents himself as a funeral poet helping the nation process its grief after he has undergone a professional vision of the soul's immortality, of the place of the national poet in eternity. The two roles cohere in their wisdom about the sanctified character of poetic identity within a civic world of national achievement, as well as in their underlying project: ‘Poetry serves as a consolation for loss’.
According to John R. Roberts's Annotated Bibliography of Modern Criticism, 1979–1995, over one hundred books, articles, and notes on Donne's life and work have been published yearly since 1978, providing ample testimony of burgeoning critical interest in Donne studies. Items of interest have appeared in a wide variety of languages and publications, from mainstream university and commercial presses to highly specialized journals, bulletins, and newsletters. This brief article aims to indicate the international scope of this surge of interest, the nature of scholarly exchange and collaboration in Donne studies, the principal organizations that facilitate this exchange, and the value of the international scholarly community as a research tool. To that end, this article begins by considering two closely linked institutions that have provided a central focus for, and promotion of, Donne studies in the past thirty years: that is, the John Donne Society and the John Donne Journal: Studies in the Age of Donne.
Mark David Rasmussen
This article analyzes Spenser's Complaints and Daphnaïda. In 1591, the year after the first installment of The Faerie Queene, the publisher William Ponsonby issued in quick succession two more volumes by Edmund Spenser: the collection of miscellaneous short poems titled Complaints, and Daphnaïda a single poem mourning the recent death of the nineteen-year-old Douglas Howard, wife of Spenser's acquaintance Arthur Gorges. Both quarto volumes were prepared for the press during Spenser's visit to England in 1589–91, and both seem designed to capitalize on the recent success of The Faerie Queene. Both books also showcase poetry of unconsoled lamentation.
Gary A. Stringer
The composition and distribution of Donne's writings is the essence of this article. When John Donne died on 31 March 1631, at the age of fifty-nine, he left behind a body of written work remarkable for both its volume and its variety. These writings — or those that have survived and are itemized in Geoffrey Keynes's bibliography. An emphasis in recent years on Donne's involvement in the manuscript culture of his time has tended to make us forget just how much of his work he actually published. Dedicated to King James and prefaced with an introductory epistle signed ‘Iohn Donne’, Pseudo-Martyr was printed in 1610, and — though they remained technically anonymous until 1634 — the two versions of Ignatius both appeared in print the following year. Most of Donne's poetry also was unprinted during his lifetime, the principal exceptions being the individually published Anniversaries triptych — FirAn (1611), FunEl (1611), and SecAn (1612) — and Henry, which was included in the third edition of Josuah Sylvester's commemorative volume Lachrymae Lachrymarum (1613).
John Milton worked on the History of Britain for over twenty years. He introduces his narrative of events leading up to the Norman Conquest with an account of the self-subjugation of the English to the French. The nature of the causal relationship – of how and why one thing leads to another in the History – is the central subject of this article. Notwithstanding Milton's reputation as an original thinker, it would be true to say that there was little that was new in his view of human freedom. Milton underlines the importance of conquest to his work in two ways. By the time the end of the History is reached, the relation between slavery and slavishness has been shown to work both ways.
This article discusses the controversial treatise during the lifetime of John Donne. Few inhabitants of Europe were unaffected by the confessional turbulence of Christendom. Popes, emperors, monarchs, religious orders, secular governments, legal institutions, scholars: these initiated, or were drawn into, both wars of words and of military engagement. It is appropriate that the opening sentence of Donne's dedication of Pseudo-Martyr to King James I introduces a martial simile: ‘As Temporall armies consist of Press'd men, and voluntaries, so doe they also in this warfare, in which your Majestie hath appear'd by your Bookes’. The controversial treatise, a serviceable genre, disputes any body of knowledge for which there exists a more or less acknowledged orthodoxy: scientific, philosophical, theological, and so on. This genre flourishes where competing bodies of belief confront each other. Its fundamental characteristics to demonstrate superior, corrective knowledge, or belief, and to denigrate flawed or misleading understanding.
Dangers of all kinds, and especially the dangers inherent in many different forms of discourse and communication, were rarely far from Donne's mind. Donne's elegies and satires not only abound in risk-taking language, but they also frequently intimate the danger of various situated forms of speech and writing. Donne's letters and other prose reflections provide considerable evidence of how often his thoughts turned to the dangers associated not only with linguistic interaction but also with the circulation of written texts. Donne is clearly fascinated by the exercise and effects of print censorship. Donne's strong tendency is to characterize communication as bound up with danger, but state and religious authorities are by no means the sole agents of threat in the risk-filled arena of linguistic interaction. Donne's word ‘misinterpretable’ is itself teasingly misinterpretable. However, seriously Donne took the dangers of ‘misinterpretable’ words; he also made them his chief poetic resource.