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unknown Emilia was taken into the household of Susan Bertie, Countess of Kent (b. 1554); whether as a servant or a ward is still debated. A proto-feminist, Bertie believed that girls should be as well educated as boys. Emilia learned Latin and read the classics, surely along with continuous lessons in poise, grooming, courtly manners, witty conversation, and other ladylike skills

in Reading Shakespeare’s mind

answers. Would an Elizabethan audience casually have accepted a rural shepherdess quoting Marlowe? Imagine an Okie girl in the 1930s – Rose of Sharon Joad in John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath – suddenly spouting a couplet by Yeats; wouldn’t that blink readers’ eyes and whet the nibs of critics? Literacy was uncommon among Elizabethan women

in Reading Shakespeare’s mind
The poetics of the Epithalamia

sense of regret and loss in the manner of these few lines from Sappho. The epithalamia that have survived from antiquity are on the whole more decisively celebratory. In Greek literature, the iconic text is from Theocritus’s Idyll 18 , on the marriage of Helen and Menelaus, which is introduced with this description of the nuptial celebration: Once upon a time, then, at the palace of fair-haired Menelaus in Sparta, girls with hyacinth blooms in their hair prepared to dance before the freshly painted bridal chamber (there were twelve of them

in Spenser and Donne
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The Faerie Queene III–IV

as being the wellspring of a glorious race of kings, she is also a young girl with a crush (a ‘silly Mayd’; III.ii.27.7). Moreover, she is embroiled in scenes straight out of the world of fabliau. 36 She is drawn into a bed-swapping fiasco in Malecasta’s castle after her effort not to be noticed (by eating dinner in full armor with only her visor up) proves counterproductive (i.42–62). Equally misled by Britomart’s masculine appearance after being liberated by her from Busirane’s castle, Amoret is thrown into a state of anxiety when her rescuer, in an effort to

in Comic Spenser
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‘After I am dead and rotten’ – Spenser’s missing afterlife

need for a patron. 25 Once the author of the ‘Summary’ has relocated Spenser to London, he offers another anecdote, whose purpose is to explain Spenser’s rise to fame as a poet: according to this anecdote, Spenser the unsuccessful scholar and unsuccessful lover of the Girl from the North began to write poetry and, after having impressed his poetically inclined acquaintances, to look for a suitable patron. He shrewdly chose Philip Sidney as ‘the Person, to whom he design’d the first Discovery of himself’ and headed to Leicester house, armed

in English literary afterlives

informed about what was the theory and very likely the practice when Spenser went to Merchant Taylors’ School or Shakespeare entered his Stratford grammar school. Educational manuals indicate that there was considerable agreement on curriculum and methodology. Children first attended a petty school where they learned reading, writing, and counting; girls might be taught needlework instead of writing and arithmetic. The boy was to begin by

in The early Spenser, 1554–80
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Figures of comparison and repetition in Spenser’s Cantos of Mutabilitie and Donne’s Anniversaries

titanomachy and a trial: Mutabilitie would metonymically ‘displace’ (VII.vi.10) Cynthia from her palace and the other gods from ‘heauen’ (VII.vi.16). The Anniversaries offer a dramatic monologue based on the fantastic premise that a fourteen-year-old girl’s death has left the present world a ‘carkasse’ ( First Anniversarie ( FA ), line 339). The temporalities of the Cantos and Anniversaries also strikingly diverge. Framed as an act of memory told by an archival narrator who then only occasionally interpolates or apostrophizes, the Cantos are veiled, like the rest

in Spenser and Donne
Aspects of Ramist rhetoric

attract the sexual attentions of the diseased French, Italian, and Dutch men. Through a clever innuendo and repetition of ‘quickly know thee, and know thee’ the speaker suggests that she risks becoming a common whore if she follows him to war. Nor, he says, should she behave melodramatically like a common girl, crying out with sudden premonition: ‘Oh, oh / Nurse, Oh my love is slain: I saw him go / O’er the white Alps alone; I saw him, I, / Assail’d, fight, taken, stabb’d, bleed, fall and die’ (lines 51–4). These lines not only use the figures of apostrophe

in Spenser and Donne
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Spenser, Donne, and the metaphysical sublime

-assurèd of the mind, / … / Our two souls therefore, which are one’ (lines 17 – 21). Throughout his poetic canon, Donne expresses the sublime idea of individuals who ‘knew not what we loved’ (‘The Relic’). A non-cognitive state of rapture finds its way into many corners of the Donne corpus: as in the word ‘rapt’ in Elegy XV: His Parting from Her , or ‘poetic rage’ in ‘Countess of Bedford’ [III] – sometimes formally occupying the Longinian interval between earth and heaven, as in the Second Anniversary , when the soul of a young girl ‘Dispatches in a minute all the way

in Spenser and Donne
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several times evoked with point and poignancy through allusions to the fourth book of Virgil’s epic. The victim in the poem of Catullus is Ariadne, who makes for a still more telling parallel, since, like Alinda, she is a young girl who flees the authority of her father to follow her lover – and since Theseus, unlike Aeneas, is notorious, thanks to various legends, as an abuser of women. The nominal occasion for and subject of Catullus’ Epithalamium is the mythical wedding of Peleus and the sea-goddess Thetis, but this theme gives way, after fifty or so verses, to the

in The Shakespearean comic and tragicomic