Writing after Sidney: The Literary Response to Sir Philip Sidney, 1586-1640

By Gavin Alexander | Go to book overview

Postscript
ClerimontU+202…night live by his verses? he did not make 'hem to that ende…ope.
DauphineAnd yet the noble Sidney lives by his, and the noble family not asham'd.1

Sidney's aristocratic social status had always inflected his status as literary model. He looked very different in comparison to Spenser, or Shakespeare, or Jonson, and the budding professional writer might pause before selecting him a…ole model. Jonson had found that the way to construct his own relationship with Sidney was to mak…lace for himself in the life of Sidney's family. When he wrote his ode for the birthday of Sir William Sidney, Robert Sidney's oldest son, he created a poem heavily freighted with literary conventions,2 because the way forward for both Jonson and the young Sidney was by building on tradition:

Your blood
So good
And great, must seeke for new,
And studie more:
Not weary, rest
On what's deceast.
For they, that swell
With dust of ancestors, in graves but dwell.

These lines repeat the sentiment of Philip Sidney's meritocratic motto, vix ea nostra voco ('I scarcely call those things [race and ancestry and what

1 Ben Jonson, Epicoene, 2.3.117–18.

2 See Anthony Miller, ' [These forc'd ioyes]: Imitation, Celebration, and Exhortation in Ben Jonson's Ode to Sir William Sidney', SP, 86 (1989), 42–68.

3 'Ode. To Sir William Sidney, on his Birth-day', 33–40, in Jonson, 8.120–21

-332-

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Writing after Sidney: The Literary Response to Sir Philip Sidney, 1586-1640
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents ix
  • List of Illustrations xi
  • Note on Spelling, References, and Abbreviations xiii
  • Introduction xix
  • 1 - Dialogue and Incompletion 1
  • 2 - Elegies and Legacies 56
  • 3 - the Last Word 76
  • 4 - Families and Friends 128
  • 5 - Finding and Making 149
  • 6 - Lyric after Sidney 193
  • 7 - Life after Sidney 220
  • 8 - Versions of Arcadia 262
  • 9 - A Constant Art 283
  • Postscript 332
  • Bibliography 339
  • Index 363
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