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A Philippist reading of Sidney’s New Arcadia
Richard James Wood

In this chapter, I introduce the critical paradigm of Sidney’s Philippism as a means by which to read Sidney’s New Arcadia. I examine the alternative modern critical approaches to Sidney’s piety and the significance of his religious outlook for reading his literary works. As well as highlighting the status of Melanchthon’s theology in Sidney’s society, I demonstrate the peculiar suitability of the romance form for articulating a Philippist ethos. Moreover, I show how the Arcadia, especially its revised version, which has been conventionally seen as a less than serious literary project, centred on the amorous encounters of its characters, can express a profound moral earnestness – indeed, can communicate a sincere and devout Christian message.

in Sidney's Arcadia and the conflicts of virtue
Sir Philip Sidney, the Arcadia and his step-dame, Elizabeth
Richard James Wood

This first chapter introduces Sir Philip Sidney’s contribution to the Elizabethan political imaginary, paying particular attention to his relationship, as a would-be court counsellor, with Queen Elizabeth. I begin to elucidate the particular contribution made by Sidney’s Arcadia to the beliefs and practices of Tudor political culture. The Old Arcadia, Sidney’s first attempt to negotiate his relationship with Elizabeth in the form of an extended prose work, his ‘Letter to Queen Elizabeth, Touching her Marriage with Monsieur’ and Astrophil and Stella form the background to the discussion in this chapter. The characters of Amphialus and Helen of Corinth from the New Arcadia, the influence of Sidney’s Philippist education on his behaviour in his conciliary role, as well as the literary-political legacy he leaves to his sister, the Countess of Pembroke, and his friend Fulke Greville, are all important to the thesis of the book as a whole, and are introduced here.

in Sidney's Arcadia and the conflicts of virtue

Wood reads Philip Sidney’s New Arcadia in the light of the ethos known as Philippism, after the followers of Philip Melanchthon the Protestant theologian. He employs a critical paradigm previously used to discuss Sidney’s Defence of Poesy and narrows the gap that critics have found between Sidney’s theory and literary practice. This book is a valuable resource for scholars and researchers in the fields of literary and religious studies.

Various strands of philosophical, political and theological thought are accommodated within the New Arcadia, which conforms to the kind of literature praised by Melanchthon for its examples of virtue. Employing the same philosophy, Sidney, in his letter to Queen Elizabeth and in his fiction, arrogates to himself the role of court counsellor. Robert Devereux also draws, Wood argues, on the optimistic and conciliatory philosophy signified by Sidney’s New Arcadia.

Sir Philip Sidney’s legacy of anti-factionalism
Richard James Wood

Although Philip Sidney’s Arcadia was completed in the previous decade, it was in fact a work of great literary significance to the 1590s. In particular, the literary quarrel associated with the different publications of the romance reflected the conflicting political philosophies of the publications’ editors. This was a dispute over Sidney’s literary heritage, with added importance for the possible future direction of a state dogged by factionalism. As one of Sidney’s early editors, Fulke Greville chose to connect the Arcadia with one particularly prominent faction of the 1590s: the Essex circle. In doing so, as Joel Davis observes, Greville associated the romance with the divisiveness ‘that eventually wore down men like himself and Robert Sidney [Philip’s brother] – and which would help destroy [Robert Devereux, second Earl of] Essex’. The other party to this literary argument, Mary Sidney Herbert, had a different conception of the political importance of the Arcadia, based on an anti-factionalist agenda. This latter philosophy is the more significant of the two for reading the New Arcadia in particular, and that the key to understanding the conciliatory nature of the revised romance lies with its female characters; they are crucial elements in Sidney’s legacy to later decades.

in Sidney's Arcadia and the conflicts of virtue
Conflicted conflicts in Astrophil and Stella and the New Arcadia
Richard James Wood

The martial adventures of the New Arcadia have produced a good deal of critical opinion about what such knightly escapades might suggest about Sidney’s political philosophy. Sidney’s position, as a well-connected courtier who opposed Elizabeth’s marriage to Anjou and who favoured a more active foreign policy in defence of the Protestant religion, provides a ready point of departure for such discussions. In this chapter, I engage with the strand of critical thought that finds there to be a mismatch between the chivalric ethos of the New Arcadia and Sidney’s real-world political ambitions. The particular moral outlook that I have attributed to Sidney in previous chapters and the figure of Amphialus are again useful in resolving this critical issue.

in Sidney's Arcadia and the conflicts of virtue
Iceland travel books 1854-1914
Emily Lethbridge

This contribution looks at a selection of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century travel books published by North American visitors to Iceland. The fascination of nineteenth-century British tourists with northern latitudes has been the subject of considerable scholarship by Andrew Wawn and Jón Karl Helgason (amongst others) in recent years. Hitherto, American accounts of travel to Iceland have not been examined in much detail, however. As well as presenting an overview of these little-studied travel books (who were the authors, when and why did they visit Iceland and choose to publish their travel narratives, where did they go?), this essay will attempt to identify what can be said to characterise these American accounts, as well as to evaluate the interest that each author had in the sagas of Icelanders (Íslendingasögur).

in From Iceland to the Americas
Matthew Scribner

The reputation of Christopher Columbus has fluctuated over the centuries, with writers sometimes treating him as a hero, and at other times emphasising his crimes against the Arawaks and his legacy of genocide against other indigenous peoples of North and South America. Some of these critics note that the title of ‘Discoverer’ serves to diminish the history of indigenous people and to justify their continued exploitation. Occasionally, critics have attacked the notion of Columbus as ‘Discoverer’ by pointing to the earlier Norse voyages. This chapter analyses works of popular history written since the excavations at L’Anse aux Meadows and argues that using the Norse voyages in this way tends to reproduce Eurocentric assumptions but can also serve as a helpful occasion to imagine pro-indigenous alternatives to European conquest.

in From Iceland to the Americas
Vinland and historical imagination

From Iceland to the Americas, an anthology of thirteen original critical essays, is an exercise in the reception of a small historical fact with wide-ranging social, cultural, and imaginative consequences. Medieval records claim that around the year 1000 Leif Eiriksson and other Nordic explorers sailed westwards from Iceland and Greenland to a place they called Vinland. Archaeological evidence has in fact verified this claim, though primarily by way of one small, short-lived Norse settlement in Newfoundland, which may not even have been Leif’s. Whether or not this settlement was his, however, the contact associated with him has had an outsized impact on cultural imagination in and of the Americas. Since the middle of the nineteenth century, indeed, novels, poetry, history, politics, arts and crafts, comics, films and video games have all reflected a rising interest in the medieval Norse and their North American presence. Uniquely in reception studies, From Iceland to the Americas approaches this dynamic between Nordic history and its reception by bringing together international authorities on mythology, language, film, and cultural studies, as well as on the literature that has dominated critical reception. Collectively, the essays not only explore the connections among medieval Iceland and the modern Americas, but also probe why medieval contact has become a modern cultural touchstone.

Vinland as remembered by Icelanders
Simon Halink

The Old Icelandic Vinland sagas enjoy a special status in American culture as the oldest written accounts of an attempted European settlement in the New World. But how are these stories conceived by the people who can actually claim direct descent from Leif Eiriksson and his fellow pioneers, that is the Icelanders? This contribution explores the various ways in which the story of Vinland has been framed in the cultural memory of Icelanders on both sides of the Atlantic. It focuses on written sources from the late nineteenth and first half of the twentieth centuries, when new ideas on Icelandic nationhood emerged in the spirit of the island’s independence movement. Furthermore, it compares the ideas of Icelanders in Iceland to those of Icelandic immigrants in the New World and analyses the differences between them, using the theoretical concept of territorial kinship. Was the Icelandic approach to Vinland on the other side of the Atlantic markedly different from that of the Icelanders who stayed at home? And if so, what does this tell us about the construction of national self-images at home and abroad?

in From Iceland to the Americas
Iceland in the literary and the professorial imagination
Seth Lerer

Jules Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth (published in French in 1864, but widely circulating in English translations by the mid-1870s) stands as a defining document in the literary imagination of Iceland in the Anglo-American tradition. It looks back to a heritage of associating philology and geology as historical sciences and, in turn, of finding Iceland as the lode for both. It also provided later travellers with a template for exploring both the language and the landscape of the island. In the process, Verne’s novel helped to make the scholar into a heroic adventurer and grant to nineteenth-century writers a new sense of a professorial sublime.

in From Iceland to the Americas