Pastoral and the Poetics of Self-Contradiction: Theocritus to Marvell

Overview

The traditional view of pastoral as a static genre, aimed at the recreation of an idyllic past, has recently been challenged by historicist critics. Here Judith Haber complicates the opposition between humanist and historicist perspectives by examining ways in which pastoral poets themselves interrogate the contradictory relations inherent in their genre. Focusing on texts by Theocritus, Virgil, Sidney, and Marvell, Haber revises current understanding of pastoral, and raises wider questions about literature in ...

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Overview

The traditional view of pastoral as a static genre, aimed at the recreation of an idyllic past, has recently been challenged by historicist critics. Here Judith Haber complicates the opposition between humanist and historicist perspectives by examining ways in which pastoral poets themselves interrogate the contradictory relations inherent in their genre. Focusing on texts by Theocritus, Virgil, Sidney, and Marvell, Haber revises current understanding of pastoral, and raises wider questions about literature in society and the establishment of literary tradition.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Haber nicely catches the power that resides in Marvell's commitment to the 'minor' tradition of pastoral, his pursuit of a metaphorticity that recognizes its limits and achieves its distinction by exploiting the ways in which it is not so me other form of discourse, such as history or politics." Studies in English Literature

"Her [Haber's] intelligent analysis of Marvell's gestures of retreat and modest self-diminishment is perhaps the strongest possible comment on her own retreat from the modes of historicist criticism that have carved out the current understanding of pastoral's meaning....this literary study is marked methodologically by a moving nostalgia for the uncompromising, rigorous formalist criticism that seems now, with the entrenchment of the New Historicism, to be lost forever. But like the paradoxical and involuted poems it examines, this book is often able to turn a self-imposed critical limitation into a compelling critical strength." Seventeenth-Century News

"Haber renews the freshness of a subtle and tricky mode that just flat out refuses to die....Haber's slender but elegant book will test the resilience of both the genre itself and its interpreters." John Bernard, Modern Philology

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521442060
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/2011
  • Pages: 236
  • Product dimensions: 5.43 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.67 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements; Texts and abbreviations; Introduction: 'Remedies themselves complain': pastoral poetry, pastoral criticism; 1. Bringing it all back home: bucolic and heroic in Theocritus' Idylls; 2. Si numquam fallit imago: Virgil's revision of Theocritus; 3. Pastime and passion: the impasse in the Old Arcadia; 4. Complaints themselves remedy: Marvell's lyrics as problem and solution; Epilogue: farewell to pastoral: The Shepherd's Week; Notes; Works cited; Index.

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