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date: 20 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter considers how the unique linguistic terrain of late 16th-century England—characterized by the changing status and structure of English, and new attention to the rules governing its use—informed the literary culture of the period. Focusing on the broad category of ‘grammar’, the chapter explores how Sidney and Shakespeare engage with the changing language in their sonnets. It suggests that Sidney’s witty appeals to the rules of grammar, and his experimentation on the border between classical and vernacular language, highlight the transitional linguistic resources available to late-century writers. Similarly, Shakespeare’s engagement with the shifting structure of the language points to a recognition of the rhetorical possibilities opened up by the distinctive linguistic climate of the age.

Keywords: Shakespeare, Sidney, sonnets, Astrophil and Stella, early modern English, English grammar, Latin grammar

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