Clothed with variety
Discovering the formal and figurative texture of Derricke’s Image of Irelande
in John Derricke’s The Image of Irelande: with a Discoverie of Woodkarne
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John Derricke’s Image of Irelande is regularly mined by historians and critics interested in its ethnographic observations, propagandistic pro-Sidney agenda and the informative detail of its woodcut illustrations. Little has been written, however, about the formal, stylistic and rhetorical aspects of the text itself, and of the confection of verse modes Derricke brings together. This chapter addresses this situation by examining Derricke’s employment of an elaborate vatic compositional fiction, multiple metrical forms and narratorial standpoints, and a distinct set of rhetorical devices (in particular analogy and antithesis). It poses questions about Derricke’s fundamental decision to anatomise his subject using poetry rather than prose, and about the place of allegory or figura in the text, and it considers some of the different generic models he may have had in mind when exploring the role and interplay of words, images and action in both the maintenance and representation of order in Tudor Ireland.

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