The Performance of Nobility in Early Modern European Literature

By David M. Posner | Go to book overview

Notes

1 introduction: “the noble hart”
1
Spenser seems here to prefigure, if not to confirm, Lacan's contention that the moi is defined only in terms of its reflection in the eyes of the other, and that it is this “la dialectique sociale qui structure comme paranoÏaque la connaissance humaine. ” Jacques Lacan, “Le stade du miroir comme formateur de la fonction du Je telle qu'elle nous est révélée dans l'expérience psychanalytique, ” in Ecrits (Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1966): 96.

Erving Goffman, in a particularly helpful study, offers a similarly paranoid vision of the structure of the social self, couched in terms of what he, echoing Kenneth Burke, calls a “dramaturgical approach, ” in his The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (New York: Doubleday Anchor, 1959)

2
For a history of this notion, see Ernst Robert Curtius, European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages, tr. Willard R. Trask (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1973) 138–44
3
Our discussion will owe much to Stephen Greenblatt's Burckhardtian model of a “society which was … deeply theatrical, ” and to his formulation of courtly theatricality as “both disguise and histrionic self-presentation, ” without however necessarily subscribing to his view of this theatricality as a kind of totalizing, self-perpetuating repression, as will be seen below. Stephen Jay Greenblatt, Renaissance Self-Fashioning. From More to Shakespeare (University of Chicago Press, 1980) 162. See also his Sir Walter Ralegh. The Renaissance Man and His Roles (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1973), where many of these notions find their first expression
4
See Norbert Elias, The Court Society, tr. Edmund Jephcott (New York: Pantheon, 1983), and also the two volumes of his more wide-ranging study, The Civilizing Process: The History of Manners, tr. E. Jephcott (New York: Pantheon, 1978), and Power and Civility, tr. E. Jephcott (New York: Pantheon, 1982).

For a discussion of the “totalization of theatricality” in Jacobean England, whereby theatricality comes to pervade all of public life, see Jonathan Goldberg, James I and the Politics of Literature: Jonson, Shakespeare, Donne, and Their Contemporaries (Stanford University Press, 1989 (orig. pub. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1983)). This phrase appears on p. 152

5
See Greenblatt, Renaissance Self-Fashioning, 227ff., where he discusses the

-211-

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