‘Torne the worde’: Literary Practice in the Early Sixteenth Century

Chris Stamatakis

in Sir Thomas Wyatt and the Rhetoric of Rewriting

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199644407
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191738821 | DOI:

Series: Oxford English Monographs

‘Torne the worde’: Literary Practice in the Early Sixteenth Century

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This chapter considers how Wyatt’s poetry was received and renewed. John Leland and Henry Howard (Earl of Surrey) commemorate Wyatt’s literary activities by reweaving echoes from his writing in their laments. These acts of verbal reuse and textual renewal are located in a broader paradigm, which draws upon theories of literary practice in the early sixteenth century. The chapter discusses the impact of Erasmian hermeneutics, Reformation theology, pedagogic methods, and humanist strategies of translation on the literary practice and ‘grammar’ which underwrite Wyatt’s texts. Wyatt’s writing—especially his two prose apologias—can be understood against the backdrop of a shift from a referential to a relational semiotics; an Erasmian appeal to usage; invitations for readers to construct meaning by collating texts; a literary theory predicated on the unfolding of infolded meaning; and the practice of readerly rewriting by which the introduction of new text performs or reifies extant words

Keywords: Wyatt; elegy; echo; Leland; Surrey; Erasmus; literary theory; language theory; collation; performing words

Chapter.  11708 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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