Diptych and virtual diptych in Marvell, Milton, Du Bellay and others
This chapter offers access to the kinds of conversation with antiquity made possible by instances of parallel Latin and vernacular composition in certain early modern poets. A substantial subset of Marvell’s poetry is in Latin; and of particular interest are instances in which the poet writes Latin and English versions of the same poem. Ros and Hortus now ask to be considered alongside ‘On a Drop of Dew’ and ‘The Garden’ as parallel and cross-referential compositions in which Marvell plays with, and thematises, his dual literary competence in English and in Latin. These are special cases; but the idea of ‘diptych’ composition offers a distinctive way of getting a purchase on literary bilingualism at large. In Marvell’s time, the matter is rendered most fully tangible in Milton’s double book of Poems English and Latin. However, the chapter’s midsection takes the idea of the cross-linguistic diptych in a different and hypothetical direction: what if one were to imagine a Latin ‘twin’ for every vernacular poem in the classical tradition, even in the 99% of cases in which no such twin exists? Such a thought-experiment finds traction in the case of the famously Latinate English of Paradise Lost; with an added twist in that translators were not lacking who took it upon themselves to do what Milton did not do, and to render the epic’s Latinate and Virgilian verse into post-virgilian Latin. The final pages briefly extend the conversation to the poetry of Ronsard and Du Bellay a century earlier in France.
The chapter presents the book’s main thesis, arguing for a genre-based interpretation of film adaptations of literary works and pointing out the advantages of such a method over the traditional fidelity-based approach. It reflects briefly on the historical development of genre studies, and on the absence of genre as a central element from both mainstream and more recent adaptation criticism, particularly Shakespeare on screen studies. Since 2010, Shakespeare adaptation research has turned increasingly towards new media and the destabilisation of several fundamental concepts, including film, adaptation, even Shakespeare, or the changes associated with the digitally networked participation characterising contemporary cultural production and consumption. The concept of the rhizome and its use in rhizomatic adaptation criticism is also considered; the applicability of the concept for the genre-based research exemplified by the volume is pointed out. The chapter, however, confirms its belief in the broad applicability of generic categories and encourages the use of this method of adaptation analysis for screen products based on non-Shakespearean literary sources as well. The final section of the chapter describes the criteria of selecting the films included in the volume and offers a brief overview of the book’s structure.
The disciplinary divide between classics and modern literary studies sets up an artificial boundary, which can obscure our view both of what poets are doing and of how they perceive their role. Such compartmentalisation is alien to the bilingual cultures of Renaissance Europe, where Latin was still a medium for prolific literary composition, and where ancient texts rediscovered and edited by humanist scholars appeared in print with the shock of the new. Though acutely aware of the historical distance between themselves and the ancients, educated readers and writers also experienced a sense of paradoxical contemporaneity with classical authors, often expressed through the common trope whereby an ancient poet is imagined as raised from the dead through imitation or translation, or present as friend and teacher in the pages of their books. The trope may seem naively ahistoricist, but the ‘revival’ of Anacreon in the verse of Herrick and Stanley’s royalist coterie during the English Civil War illustrates how central it can be to the poet’s engagement with contemporary politics, and thus to a fully responsive historicist reading. Petrarch, with his letters to the ancients, is often seen as the origin of the period’s uncanny sense of intimacy with classical ghosts, but he was joining a conversation consciously begun by Seneca. Senecan intertextuality also pervades the ‘Ascent of Mont Ventoux’ more deeply than has been recognised, suggesting that the extent even of Petrarch’s engagement with classical writers has been underestimated.
This chapter gets its title from the word spoken by the angel to Mary at the Annunciation, a greeting that at once surprises and recognizes its addressee. So, too, is transfiguration, for this book, a practice that surprises, that calls something new out of the world, even as it bears witness to what, in the world, has never not been there. Through Francis of Assisi no less than poets Donna Masini and Mary Szybist, the world we share with the Middle Ages is one that calls us out, takes us by surprise and restores us to ourselves.
This chapter shows how several modern poets engage with the Middle Ages. For B. H. Fairchild and Rynn Williams, in particular, the medieval evokes desire, as well as the vulnerability of the desiring body. Through their poems, as well as those of Dante, Elizabeth Bradfield, and Marie Howe, the question of the body’s materiality is inseparable from the question of its fraught and fragile time. The chapter suggests that modern lyric might benefit from medievalist readers as much as medieval objects might benefit from the languages of lyricism.