Reading the classics, but how? mythographic paradigms and ‘ill-joined marquetry’
in Thomas Heywood and the classical tradition
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An experienced craftsman, Thomas Heywood was aware of generic requirements and expectations. Yet he also liked to confront different discourses, to fuse them or make them jolt against one another. When inspired by the stories of Antiquity, his writing involves acts of remembering, through dismembering and blending. This chapter considers how his composition, combining segmentation and selection with imaginative connexions, reflects reading experiences, which can be partly reconstituted from his system of borrowings and quotations in such works as Gynaikeion and The Hierarchie of the Blessed Angells (1635), as well as plays such as 1 Iron Age. Close readings of Heywood’s account of the Amazons, or the fate of Pyrene, reveal a knowledge of mythographic treatises, compilations and commonplace books, alongside classical authors and contemporaries. His mythographic readings structure his way of thinking about myth which, as his handling of themes like birth-giving suggests, is not devoid of empathy for women.

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