Lady Mary Wroth has often been read as the product of an unusually brilliant literary genealogy rather than an individual author in her own right. Ovid obviously provided Mary Wroth with the title for her sonnet sequence, 'Pamphilia to Amphilanthus', which reads like the title of an Ovidian epistle. It is unfortunately impossible to establish whether Wroth actually read Louise Labe, but her Pamphilia to Amphilanthus presents interesting similarities with Labe's sonnets in terms of gender politics and self-fashioning. The significance of Labe's identification with Sappho has been studied in depth by Francois Rigolot and Joan DeJean, who have shown the importance of the Sapphic Renaissance for her self-fashioning as an author. The publication of Labe's poems coincided with the publication of Pseudo-Longinus's Greek treatise on the sublime by Francesco Robortello in Basel in 1554.
‘The fantastic ethnography’ of Sir Walter Ralegh and Baconian experimentalism
Sir Walter Ralegh mentions Mandeville twice: once in The Discoverie of Guiana and again in The History of the World. Like anthropologists later, he considers the 'fables' of The Travels as meaningful narratives that can be explained rationally, and it is no surprise that his reading of the Acephali was current until the nineteenth century. This chapter discusses an example of the Acephali that shows how by resorting to an early source Ralegh manages to distance himself from the iconographical and fabulous tradition. Ralegh's travel narrative is based on epistemological strategies that adumbrate in many ways the Baconian method, even if it is a far cry from the factual objectivity of the Royal Society experimentalists. Critics have often dismisses Ralegh as a mere dabbler in natural history and travel literature, but Ralegh is one of the finest readers and interpreters of his time, capable of mastering very distinct hermeneutic systems.