Some years ago, in a second-hand bookshop, I happened upon a
book about ‘orthometry’, a quaint and obsolete term defined in the
book’s full title, which is The Art of Versification and the Technicalities
of Poetry (published by J. Grant of Edinburgh, revised edition, 1923).
The second chapter is called ‘Kinds of Poetry’, of which there are
seven (the book claims), the first being ‘Lyric Poetry’, which is subdivided into sections on ‘The Ode’, ‘The Ballad’, ‘The Hymn and
Song’ and ‘The Elegy’. Surprisingly, the sonnet is the sixth of the
seven ‘Kinds of
This book explores a range of literary and theatrical forms as means of mediating religious conflict in early modern England. It deals with the specific ways available to mediate religious conflict, precisely because faith mattered more than many other social paradigms. The first part explores the ways in which specific religious rituals and related cultural practices were taken up by literary texts. In a compelling rereading of the final act of 'The Merchant of Venice', the book investigates the devotional differences informing early modern observances of Easter. Subsequently, it explores the ways in which Christmas provided a confessional bridge uniting different religious constituencies. Goodnight ballads were not only commercially successful pieces of public entertainment but also effective forms of predominantly Protestant religious persuasion. The book's consideration of Elizabethan romance links the literary form to the sacrament of the Eucharist, and argues that the Eucharist debate had an impact on Elizabethan romances. The second part 'Negotiating confessional conflict' provides a rereading of When You See Me You Know Me, exposing the processes of religious reform as an on-going means of mediating the new normality of confessional plurality. It examines the potential of the tragic form by a reading of the play The White Devil, and discusses the ideological fault line in the views of witchcraft. The book also shows that Henry V anticipates later sermons of John Donne that served to promote 'an interrogative conscience'.
1 ‘Living Form’: William Blake's
We enter William Blake's Jerusalem
(1804–c.20) through a distinctly Gothic doorway, yet the word
‘Gothic’ never makes an appearance throughout the 100 plates of
Blake's longest work of illuminated printing. To grasp the importance of the
Gothic for Blake's late work, we might turn to the 1822 broadsheet entitled
‘Recognised’ forms of opposition
Opposition to the Great War took many forms. This was perhaps not surprising, given its scale. It was a unique occasion for Great Britain. Never before had
the whole, industrialised nation been mobilised for war on this scale. In medieval times, men who worked on the land had, in times of threat, left their
harvests and gone to war as part of the agreement between landowner and serf.
Much later, with the establishment of a regular army and navy, there was little
need of binding agreements. As often as not, men joined up out of
The computer game as fictional form
For when the One Great Scorer comes
To write against your name,
He marks – not that you won or lost –
But how you played the game.
Life’s too short to play chess. (H. J. Byron)
The origins of this project can be located in an experience that
could not have been further distanced, at the time, from the academic practice and teaching of cultural and literary criticism
which usually fills my days: the successful conclusion of Close
Combat II: A Bridge Too Far (1997), a strategic wargame set in the
held forth by the Platonic Socrates in his trenchant criticism
of sophistic rhetoric, and in his description of a philosophical
rhetoric grounded upon true knowledge and always striving for
Literary forms are fully social
forms and invite an assessment that is both ethical and political.
The criticism of Shelley‘s ‘The Triumph of Life’ now makes up a small library of its own, though the status of the poem as a fragment yet precludes any final closure of commentary. The article proposes that criticism of the ‘Triumph’ falls between two poles. One view, of which Paul De Man is representative, sees the Shelley of his final poem as mature, becoming skeptical of romantic uses of the language of the uncanny. The other, of which Ross Woodman is representative, sees him finally as a fascinated believer in the supernatural and transcendent. This paper argues that the poem might be better seen as a complex and subtle mixing of these two frames, a skeptical fascination that relies on Shelley‘s refined use of the Gothic mode in the poem. This unstable frame results in an evaluation of Rousseau‘s philosophy as a form of truth flawed by desire, and a counterfeit ghost of the originating ideas when it reaches the public sphere. Seen this way, Shelley places Rousseau‘s ‘shape all light’ within a pantheon of other great figures of world history as an idealist who was made into a gothic cult by those in power.
Melancholy as form: towards an
archaeology of modernism
When traditional aesthetics . . . praised harmony in natural beauty, it projected the selfsatisfaction of domination onto the dominated.1
We can date the end of the novel precisely: the last novel ever written was Flaubert’s
Sentimental Education, published in 1869. It is sometimes said that Flaubert’s work
inaugurates the waning of the Bildungsroman and the inauguration of the novel of disillusionment. But that says too little. Can there be a roman without the Bildung? The
The parables of the Wedding Feast and Great Supper
Paradox formed into story
Paradox formed into story:
the parables of the Wedding Feast
and Great Supper
Thus comparisunez Kryst þe kyndom of heuen
To þis frelych feste þat fele arn to called;
For alle arn laþed luflyly, þe luþer and þe better,
Þat euer wern fulȝed in font, þat fest to haue. (Cleanness, 161–4)1
This final chapter returns to the parable of the Wedding Feast
(Matt 22:1–14), a story fraught with contradictions, both within
the narrative itself and in its relation to other Gospel stories.
The Wedding Feast is a paradigmatic parable: it is
Re-forming the stage
The season of 1697/8 marks a crucial period in theatre history and an
extraordinary chapter in the history of theatre women. In no other
season on the Late Stuart stage were so many new plays by female playwrights performed by the same company in the same playhouse.
Competition between the two houses was still fierce and an act of overt
plagiarism by the Patent Company fuelled the ongoing animosity. The
Players’ Company maintained its commercially successful edge over its
rivals and this season can be