Jeff Dolven

in Scenes of Instruction in Renaissance Romance

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print June 2007 | ISBN: 9780226155364
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226155371 | DOI:

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The newArcadia is in almost every way more extravagant than its predecessor. The old Arcadia is a chamber opera, the action of which is confined to the forest court of Duke Basilius, and the actors double or even triple up their roles: judge and father, prosecutor and counselor, Cleophila and Daiphantus and Pyrocles. The new Arcadia is grand opera by comparison, or better, epic—played out on battlefields and calling for a cast of thousands. This chapter explores the new Arcadia's new commitment to method—method being Sidney's new answer to the problem of how to make a book that teaches. The old Arcadia defied the didactic imperative by dismantling its own authority: it is full of teacherly flourish, and it ultimately refuses to teach. The revision follows a different course. Its most obvious innovation is its turn to epic, and it gains the requisite girth by digesting a mess of new episode and experience, a welter of new knowledge. Out of this new stuff, Sidney builds what amounts to an encyclopedia inside his fiction. The work that results is a strange hybrid of its ancient sources and the most up-to-date learning, a great experiment in how fiction and method might coexist. Most importantly, for Sidney, it is a work that can teach without a teacher.

Keywords: Philip Sidney; epic; teaching; fiction

Chapter.  15096 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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