The Model of Poesy

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Gavin Alexander, ed. William Scott, The Model of Poesy.

The Defence of Poesy

Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ISBN Gavin Alexander's splendid scholarly edition of William Scott's Model of Poesy contributes to early modern literary studies in ways that will have lasting effects. Scott's manuscript treatise--known to E. Chambers in the s, but subsequently lost, only to be rediscovered by Stanley Wells in is one of the most comprehensive works of Elizabethan literary criticism yet discovered.

In learning--though perhaps not in philosophical acuity, elegance of presentation, or influence--it ranks with the most important of its English sources, Sidney's Apology for Poetry.

Clemence Poesy - Bubbly

Anyone interested in Sidney or in Elizabethan understandings of literary method, genre, or poetic style should spend a long afternoon with this volume. Those studying the history of literary criticism will want to own a copy. In ambition and comprehensiveness, Alexander's contribution as an editor matches that of Scott as a critic. Along with a carefully transcribed, modern-spelling text of the treatise, Alexander provides a rich introduction and commentary. Besides a great deal of genealogical and biographical sleuthing, Alexander has also done the extensive legwork needed to track down Scott's many philosophical, rhetorical, and literary allusions.

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In detailing the complex web of intertextual connections, Alexander undertakes a remarkably full account of literary theory in Elizabethan England. Included are all the major texts: treatises on poetics by Gascoigne, Webb, and Wilson; hybrid treatises on rhetoric and poetics by Hoskyns, Puttenham, and Fraunce; apologies for poetry by Sidney, Lodge, and Harington; and exchanges about quantitative versification between Spenser and Harvey, Daniel and Campion.

Alexander's survey goes further, however, touching on prefaces, prologues, epilogues, and dedications by a variety of Elizabethan authors and translators, as well as contemporary Latin treatises published in England by the likes of Dethick, Wills, and Gentili.


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The Model, then is a work born of a particularly exciting cultural and fraught political context. The conclusion of the second and much of the third section of the definition is missing because several leaves of the manuscript are lost in his introduction Alexander speculates on what sorts of topics might have been included in the lost material.

The Model of Poesy

Scott consciously produces bridges between the established ancient canon and holding up to it recent and contemporary writing, making sure almost every genre and sub-genre he discusses is illustrated by historically varied examples. Throughout the Model, he references Chaucer and Renaissance writers such as Spenser, Sidney, Daniel, and indeed Shakespeare, to name but a few, just as much as classical authors. The final few pages offer little codas.

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This valuable edition is a triumph both for the two scholars, Scott and Alexander, and for Renaissance studies as a whole. You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Google account.

The Model of Poesy

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