Fault Lines and Controversies in the Study of Seventeenth-Century English Literature

By Claude J. Summers; Ted-Larry Pebworth | Go to book overview
Save to active project

Sharon Cadman Seelig


The Poets of the Renaissance

or, The Illusions of My Youth

Once upon a time there was a period called the Renaissance, characterized by an awakening from ignorance of classical literary texts. During that time writers, under the influence of powerful texts such as Pico della Mirandola's Oration on the Dignity of Man, quite suddenly realized that human life was worthwhile; they stopped disregarding or suppressing the body and began to value the present life. 1. They wrote love poems on the theme of carpe diem and, even in England, translating and adapting from Italian models, indulged in a fashion of writing sonnets to beloved mistresses. The sonnet, an inherently heterosexual form, conveys great power to a lady who exercises authority over the poet who idealizes her and pleads with her. One of these women was Shakespeare's Dark Lady, whom A. L. Rowse later conveniently identified as Emilia Lanier. 2. During this period there were no English women writers worth mentioning. That fact was passionately regretted by Virginia Woolf in A Room of One's Own:

Any woman born with a great gift in the sixteenth century would certainly have gone crazed, shot herself, or ended her days in some lonely cottage outside the village, half witch, half wizard, feared and mocked at. For it needs little skill in psychology to be sure that a highly gifted girl who had tried to use her gift for poetry would have been so thwarted and hindered by other people, so tortured and pulled asunder by her own contrary instincts, that she must have lost her health and sanity to a certainty. 3.

____________________
1.
The Oration itself was, of course, the result of the author's acquaintance with Ficino and his reading of Plato—and even of Hermes Trismegistus.
2.
Lanier, The Poems of Shakespeare's Dark Lady: Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum, introduction by A. L. Rowse (New York: Clarkson N. Potter, 1979). Although the title was highly tendentious, Rowse performed a valuable service in placing these poems before the public.
3.
Woolf, A Room of One's Own (New York: Harcourt, Brace, and World, 1929), 51. Despite

-156-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Fault Lines and Controversies in the Study of Seventeenth-Century English Literature
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 236

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?