Sir Philip Sidney
A Restoration in Contemporary English of the Complete 1593 Edition of The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia by Charles Stanley Ross and Joel B. Davis, with an Essay on Musical Settings for the Poems by Edward Abe Plough
Renaissance and Medieval Studies
Edited by Charles Stanley Ross
Information and Pricing
978-1-60235-858-4 (paperback, $49.99); 978-1-60235-859-1 (hardcover $99.99); 978-1-60235-860-7 (PDF, $29.99) © 2017 by Parlor Press. 640 pages with 25 illustrations, notes, and bibliography, and appendices
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Richard Wood, Review. The Spenser Review 49.3 (Fall 2019).
What People Are Saying
"Ross and Davis have undertaken a daring venture: to "restore," as they put it, the immense masterpiece of English Renaissance prose, Sidney's Arcadia. Why, one might ask, should Sidney's baroque syntax be made simpler and his archaic diction modernized? Because their complexity and unfamiliarity, after the lapse of some 400 years, has made the work all but unreadable, except by a small and steadily shrinking cohort of scholars. The choice is either pious oblivion or the kind of creative updating we routinely welcome in contemporary productions of Shakespeare. Ross and Davis want to give a new generation of readers access to a literary achievement of surpassing intelligence and beauty."—Stephen Greenblatt, Cogan Professor of English, Harvard University
"Sir Philip Sidney's Arcadia perfectly defines what we think of as the English Renaissance. By the sheer quality of its achievement, it created the illusion of separating traditional rhetoric from literature or polite letters. Emerging out of the small coterie around Sidney's sister Mary, the countess of Pembroke, Sidney's oeuvre reached Shakespeare, who took to new heights the oratory exhibited by the Arcadia's characters in their speeches, debates, and poetry. Sidney's masterpiecerichly deserves the renewed attention of everyone interested in the history of English moral philosophy and the language arts." —Krista Ratcliffe, Past President, Rhetoric Society of America, Arizona State University
"Most of us don't think of singing Renaissance shepherds as a source of political understanding. But statesmanship is exactly what we find in Sidney's Arcadia. It is one reason, along with Sidney's use of humor and suspense, that this compelling story was the most popular work of English narrative prose for over two hundred years. Modern-day public servants might benefit as Shakespeare did in borrowing widely from Arcadia's lessons on virtue, popular rebellion and the perils of misrule." —Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr., President of Purdue University and Former Governor of Indiana
Sidney's Arcadia was the most popular and most important work of English prose fiction for over two hundred years. In it we find the name Pamela, Sidney's invention. Shakespeare read every word. Not himself in the corridors of power as Sidney was, Shakespeare borrowed the way Sidney's prose and poetry expresses strong emotion controlled by thought. He also modeled characters on those in the Arcadia. Gloucester in King Lear is modeled on Sidney's blind Paphlagonian king. Philoclea's bewilderment at her love for Pyrocles becomes Juliet's performance when Romeo appears beneath her balcony.
Sidney's Renaissance romance also offers a surprisingly astute analysis of statesmanship that prefigures Shakespeare's history plays. When Basilius misinterprets an oracle and retreats to his country house, he pursues a cross-dressed Amazon whom his wife also desires. Musidorus and Pyrocles in disguise woo the royal princess Pamela and Philoclea by recounting their attempts to bring justice and stability to foreign countries. The king's envious sister-in-law stirs up dissensions and adds to the misery of her love-sick son Amphialus. Sidney himself was a courtier and close observer of Queen Elizabeth I. His father was three times governor of Ireland. Readers will find this fable of power, erotic passion, and civic unrest both entertaining and timely.
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