Renaissance Literary Theory

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 clowns (67). As Sidney was well aware, the plays performed in the…

3253 words

Citation: Mousley, Andrew. "Renaissance Literary Theory". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 02 November 2009 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=942, accessed 16 July 2024.]

942 Renaissance Literary Theory 2 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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