Renaissance Literary Theory (3253 words)

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay


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Theories of literature are sometimes difficult to reconcile with literary practice, especially when the theory is overly prescriptive. An example occurs in Philip Sidney’s Defence of Poetry (1595). Waxing rigidly Aristotelian, Sidney writes that plays should observe unity of time and place and represent “but one” and “but one day” (Sidney: 1966, 65). He criticises plays in which we are asked to believe that the stage represents a “garden” one moment and the site of a “shipwreck” the next (65). He also takes a swipe at what he calls “mongrel” dramatic genres like tragicomedy for the way they mingle the gravitas that properly belongs to the representation of kings with the low scurrility associated with …

Citation: Mousley, Andrew. "Renaissance Literary Theory". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 02 November 2009 [, accessed 19 June 2021.]

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