Dialogues Profitable, Delightsome, and Bold

Antoinina Bevan Zlatar

in Reformation Fictions

Published in print June 2011 | ISBN: 9780199604692
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191729430 | DOI:
Dialogues Profitable, Delightsome, and Bold

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English dialogists valued their chosen genre for its didactic power over the ‘unlearned’. Construed in Horatian terms, dialogues gave readers pleasure alongside instruction and, by exerting power over the emotions, moved them to do good. By means of a detailed discussion of a selection of Erasmus's Colloquia familiaria, and his defence of their satire in De utilitate colloquiorum, this chapter explores the ways in which ‘pleasure’ sugars the doctrinal pill. It delineates the gamut of ostentatiously imaginary interlocutors often presented satirically, the realism of place and time, and the plot of conversion. It showcases the polemical dialogue's constant and deliberate slippage between the fictional and the topical, and suggests that the English dialogists — predominantly puritan clerics — valued this hybridity as a license to radicalism.

Keywords: Erasmus's Colloquia familiaria; Erasmus's De utilitate colloquiorum; epideictic rhetoric; satire; characterization; realism of time and place; conversion narratives; puritan dialogists

Chapter.  10820 words. 

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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