Solitude and Speechlessness: Renaissance Writing and Reading in Isolation

By Andrew Mattison

© 2019

Recent literary criticism, along with academic culture at large, has stressed collaboration as essential to textual creation and sociability as a literary and academic virtue. Solitude and Speechlessness proposes an alternative understanding of writing with a complementary mode of reading: literary engagement, it suggests, is the meeting of strangers, each in a state of isolation. The Renaissance authors discussed in this study did not necessarily work alone or without collaborators, but they were uncertain who would read their writings and whether those readers would understand them.

These concerns are represented in their work through tropes, images, and characterizations of isolation. The figure of the isolated, misunderstood, or misjudged poet is a preoccupation that relies on imagining the lives of wandering and complaining youths, eloquent melancholics, exemplary hermits, homeless orphans, and retiring stoics; such figures acknowledge the isolation in literary experience. As a response to this isolation of literary connection, Solitude and Speechlessness proposes an interpretive mode it defines as strange reading: a reading that merges comprehension with indeterminacy and the imaginative work of interpretation with the recognition of historical difference.

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Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 272 pages
  • Illustrations: 2
  • Dimensions: 5.9in x 1.0in x 9.2in
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SKU# SP005339

  • PUBLISHED JUL 2019

    From: $56.25

    Regular Price: $75.00

    ISBN 9781487504045
  • PUBLISHED JUL 2019

    From: $56.25

    Regular Price: $75.00

Quick Overview

Solitude and Speechlessness argues that experiences of isolation are inherent to the writing and reading of Renaissance literature, and finds parallels and meaning in the lives of solitary figures including poets, ascetics, and hermits.

Solitude and Speechlessness: Renaissance Writing and Reading in Isolation

By Andrew Mattison

© 2019

Recent literary criticism, along with academic culture at large, has stressed collaboration as essential to textual creation and sociability as a literary and academic virtue. Solitude and Speechlessness proposes an alternative understanding of writing with a complementary mode of reading: literary engagement, it suggests, is the meeting of strangers, each in a state of isolation. The Renaissance authors discussed in this study did not necessarily work alone or without collaborators, but they were uncertain who would read their writings and whether those readers would understand them.

These concerns are represented in their work through tropes, images, and characterizations of isolation. The figure of the isolated, misunderstood, or misjudged poet is a preoccupation that relies on imagining the lives of wandering and complaining youths, eloquent melancholics, exemplary hermits, homeless orphans, and retiring stoics; such figures acknowledge the isolation in literary experience. As a response to this isolation of literary connection, Solitude and Speechlessness proposes an interpretive mode it defines as strange reading: a reading that merges comprehension with indeterminacy and the imaginative work of interpretation with the recognition of historical difference.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 272 pages
  • Illustrations: 2
  • Dimensions: 5.9in x 1.0in x 9.2in
  • Reviews

    "Written in lively and engaging prose, Solitude and Speechlessness returns readers to the problematic of the literary text through a new and exciting lens, reminding us of the hermeneutic humility and epistemological uncertainty that we should exercise when entering into this strange yet rewarding period of literary history."


    Grant Williams, Department of English, Carleton University

    "Solitude and Speechlessness is a serious, sophisticated, and well-informed discussion of a series of English poets from the late-sixteenth to the late-seventeenth-century, centered on the relations between authorial self-consciousness and literary history."


    Gordon Braden, Department of English, University of Virginia
  • Author Information

    Andrew Mattison teaches in the English Department at the University of Toledo.
  • Table of contents

    Acknowledgments

    Introduction: Writing in Solitude

    1. Lyric Futures: Hidden Ambitions in the Sidney-Pembroke Circle
    2. Nameless Orphans: Ambitious Poetry in an Age of Modesty
    3. The Peril of Understanding: Forms of Obscurity
    4. The Lure of Solitude: Melancholy and Eremitism as Literary Dispositions
    5. The Naked Sense of Retirement: Cowley, Marvell, Traherne
    6. Literary History in Isolation: Bacon, Hofmannsthal, and Historical Memory

    Conclusion: Reading in Solitude

    Bibliography

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