Sons and Authors in Elizabethan England

Sons and Authors in Elizabethan England

Sons and Authors in Elizabethan England

Sons and Authors in Elizabethan England

Synopsis

"This study examines the lives and works of three Elizabethan authors-John Lyly, Philip Sidney, and Robert Greene-in order to trace an important transition in authorship at an historical moment in England. In sixteenth-century England ""poetry"" (in Sidney's"

Excerpt

Several years ago, as I was writing my dissertation on the works of Philip Sidney, I tried to come to an understanding of the famous trial scene at the end of the Arcadia in which a father condemns his son for a dereliction of duty. As my analysis developed and clarified, I suddenly realized that it was partly inspired by my own relationship with my father. I was horrified, feeling that my research had been “contaminated” by the merely personal; and for several days I agonized over the implications of my discovery, wondering how I could restore a legitimate (and legitimizing) measure of objectivity to my research. Eventually, however, I came to the conclusion that my predicament was not evidence of scholastic insolvency but was in fact a measure of my authenticity as reader. Having immersed myself in the literary text, my unique perspective—the complex of experiences, enthusiasms, anxieties, and ambitions that make me who I am—was what I had to offer in response. in what was for me a profoundly liberating realization, I understood that this was the gift each of us—from undergraduate student to senior scholar—brings to the literary texts we love. No matter how much research we do, no matter how recondite our sources, the work we are finally able to do on the texts is a direct consequence of the insights to which we are open.

This, of course, is the underlying rationale for feminist readings, gay and lesbian readings, African American readings, and so forth, each of which is simultaneously a uniquely individual perspective within such larger cultural categories. As we have learned and continue to learn, the textual interpretations made available by different culturally and psychologically constructed perspectives are not merely manifestations of desire or projections onto the text of material that is not “really” in the text; they are authentic loci of understanding conferred by sensibilities that are the product of multiple influences. a productive predisposition to certain kinds of insights is a gift, not a barrier to understanding. Because I am the son of a successful man whose expectations for me conflicted with my own aspirations, I am sensitive to such conflicts in the lives and works of other sons of successful fathers. and because I labored for several . . .

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