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Sole- talk and soul- talk

Donne’s so(u)liloquies in the Holy Sonnets

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Angelika Zirker

This chapter first presents instances of a speaker addressing his soul in the Holy Sonnets to then move on to the history and tradition of the soliloquy as so(u)le-talk. The soliloquy – or soliloquium – was defined by Augustine and can be regarded as a ‘dialogue of one’, a notion taken up by Donne in ‘The Extasie’ and in his religious poems. This concept can also be found in the translation by Thomas Rogers of Thomas à Kempis’ De imitatione Christi which he titled Soliloquium Animae: The sole-talk of the Soule. The chapter goes on to link the devotional practice of the soliloquy with the theatre by looking into early modern meanings and usage of the word ‘soliloquy’ (and soliloquium). It then presents examples in poetry and on the stage by considering the practice of meditation as well as the final soliloquy in Shakespeare’s Richard III and his Sonnet 146. Concerns about the soul are expressed dramatically in poetry by taking recourse to the form of the soliloquy.

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Angelika Zirker

This short concluding chapter brings together the analysis of Donne’s Holy Sonnets and Shakespeare’s The Rape of Lucrece in the context of poetry and drama, the soliloquy and the soul. The correlative of the self-division into body and soul is the communicative situation of the soliloquy. The speakers in both texts become observers of what is going on within them, which creates distances from as well as involvement with what is being witnessed. The soul becomes a stage and it appears on the stage of the theatre. Thus, the self begins to establish and define itself in a complex interplay of interiority and theatrical exposure both in poetry and the theatre. It is the soul that provides the link between self and (literary) self-expression, and the soliloquy provides a communicative mode that allowed writers to form this self-expression.

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Motivating the myth

Allegory and psychology

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Angelika Zirker

While the theatres were closed due to the plague in 1593/94, Shakespeare wrote his epyllion The Rape of Lucrece that has also been described as a dramatic long poem. He opens the poem with Tarquin and his lust, and he makes the soul central from the beginning; the soul hence becomes one of the keys to understanding the text. The chapter shows how the epyllion becomes a drama in which antagonistic characters – Tarquin and Lucrece but also body and soul – act and interact. The characters in the epyllion are given a psychological motivation for their deeds, and the implied allegory is diversified in that it is combined with introspection. Shakespeare changes his source material to this effect: he re-motivates the Roman myth in making the protagonists representative of inner forces and as having individual minds that debate and reflect on their actions.

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Lust- breathed Tarquin – Lucrece, the name of chaste

Antagonism, parallelism, and chiasmus

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Angelika Zirker

The rape affects the soul of Tarquin and the body of Lucrece, and their antagonistic relationship that has been established throughout comes to its climax. Shakespeare expresses this relationship linguistically through parallelism and chiasmus which lends the epyllion iconic and performative qualities through the dynamics based on these formal structures. The opposition between the characters forms a unity. The action taking place between Tarquin and Lucrece becomes a reversed (and even perverted) love tragedy: lust encounters chastity and destroys it. At the same time, Tarquin’s evil action leads to political change and the institution of the Roman Republic. The underlying allegory connects poetry and drama with narrative as well as inner debates and the soliloquy in this drama of the soul.

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Introduction

Stages of the soul and

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Angelika Zirker

This chapters addresses structural and formal links between poetry and drama as well as the soul as inner space and immortal self that takes its origin in a religious context but then contributes to the development of inwardness and psychology during the early modern period. The soul provides a link between poetry and drama as it goes through several stages (during its life on earth) that can be linked to the theatrical stage and the theatrum mundi metaphor. The soul as an entity that is self-perceptive is performatively brought to the fore in the soliloquy that becomes a soul-talk and sole-talk in early modern English poetry and drama. In the poetry of Shakespeare and Donne, the drama of the soul is enacted in various ways, which makes their poems expressive of interior states.

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Divine comedies

The speaker, his soul, and the poem as stage

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Angelika Zirker

John Donne was deeply influenced by the theatre and, as the chapter elucidates, this also shows in his religious poetry. In the Holy Sonnets (~1609), he repeatedly has a speaker reflect on or address his soul as in a soliloquy. The poems thus become stages on which the soul goes through stages in life towards death. The soul itself may become the theatron, the place of dramatic action, and the speaker is often doubled in being an actor and an audience in the scene presented. The sonnet itself structurally shows similarities to drama in which the speaker finally arrives at a climax and a happy ending, which turns these poems into divine comedies. Drama in the sense of dramatic allusion, the stage and stages, the communicative situation of the soliloquy, provides a key to processes of recognition and anagnorisis within these texts. At the same time, these dramatic elements help to explain the popularity of the soliloquy in contemporary drama.

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Angelika Zirker

This chapter summarizes how the soliloquy helps the speaker approach his soul and meditate on its condition in Donne’s Holy Sonnets. The soliloquy is based on a double perspective: a speaker is confronted with his soul and talks to it, and he is affected as an anguished soul and talks to himself. The effect of this doubling is personification, which helps him express psychological urgency. The soliloquy thus turns out to establish a connection between religious self-assurance of redemption and the psychology of the speaker. Donne’s perpetual reference to drama through allusion and the communicative situation makes the Holy Sonnets extraordinary in their poetic quality. Donne’s speaker explores the condition of the soul, and, in this exploration, comes to know not only himself but also God.

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Angelika Zirker

This chapter focuses on the perspective of Lucrece. When Tarquin threatens to rape her, she becomes the voice of reason. She is also described in terms of a besieged town that is about to be taken by force and hence allegorized. Lucrece finds herself as part of a drama that concerns her life and her inner being, and she acts in surroundings that become a stage. After the rape, the focus turns to the inner division of Lucrece that eventually leads to her suicide. She has to choose between her body and her soul, and wishes to restore her honour. Shakespeare integrates the debate about her suicide and argues against the position taken by Augustine in his City of God, who condemns her for killing herself: he has her stage her suicide in a way that it is in fact Tarquin who kills her by guiding the hand that gives the wound to her body. Lucrece is thus exempt from any blame.

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Alison Tara Walker

This chapter highlights the music of four medieval films: the folk-inspired melodies of Brother Sun Sister Moon, the synthesised keyboards of Ladyhawke, the sweeping orchestration of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and the rock-and-roll soundtrack of A Knight's Tale. These films use music to bridge a gap between the postmodern and medieval and to add new narrative information that is not present in the films' visual story. Films that are set within the medieval era are examples of medievalisms - post-medieval refashionings of the medieval age, posing as the real thing. Disphasure, then, can be a useful term to describe the ways in which film music plays a unique role in films that endeavour to represent the medieval period. Symphonic music continues to be a popular option for historical films' scores, but today a film's soundtrack is a critical component in the marketing schemes, and music videos for the film.

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A time of translation

Linguistic difference and cinematic medievalism

Carol O’Sullivan

This chapter discusses the problems posed to film, since the advent of sound film, by foreign language - problems which relate as much to questions of mimesis and representation as to the international circulation of film. It explores to what extent medieval film engages with questions of language, and to what extent these engagements may be distinctive. Three principal sites of activity are identified: extra-diegetically speaking, subtitles constitute a key authenticity-effect. Diegetically speaking, in its representations of situations of language contact and translation, it is argued here that popular medieval film shares contemporary cinematic concerns about intercultural communication in a global society. In films aimed at monolingual audiences, diegetic interpreting or subtitles are likely to be required. Rather than having a supplemental function, these subtitles constitute an integral element of filmic medievalism. Subtitles may also be pressed into service in films that portray themselves as 'rewriting' the medieval past.