The Unimagined in the English Renaissance: Poetry and the Limits of Mimesis

The Unimagined in the English Renaissance: Poetry and the Limits of Mimesis

by Andrew Mattison
     
 

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When we read poetry, we tend to believe that we are getting a glimpse of the interior of the poet’s mind—pictures from the poet’s imagination relayed through the representative power of language. But poets themselves sometimes express doubt (usually indirectly) that poetic language has the capability or the purpose of revealing these images. This

Overview

When we read poetry, we tend to believe that we are getting a glimpse of the interior of the poet’s mind—pictures from the poet’s imagination relayed through the representative power of language. But poets themselves sometimes express doubt (usually indirectly) that poetic language has the capability or the purpose of revealing these images. This book examines description in Renaissance poetry, aiming to reveal its complexity and variability, its distinctiveness from prose description, and what it can tell us about Renaissance ways of thinking about the visible world and the poetic mind. Recent criticism has tended to address representation as a product of culture; The Unimagined in the English Renaissance argues to the contrary that attention to description as a literary phenomenon can complicate its cultural context by recognizing the persistent problems of genre and literary history. The book focuses on Sidney, Spenser, Donne, and Milton, who had very different aims as poets but shared a degree of skepticism about imagistic representation. For these poets, description can obscure as much as it makes visible, and can create whole categories of existence that are outside of visibility altogether.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Mattinson (Univ. of Toledo) offers intensely detailed readings of Spenser, Sidney, Donne, and Milton, looking at repeated images of veils and landscapes and at poetic attempts (especially by Milton) to create a poetic language that offers a glimpse of something beyond mimesis.
Renaissance Quarterly
In a closely argued study of the limits of mimesis in Renaissance poetic theory and practice, Andrew Mattison challenges some of the dominant trends in early modern studies today. . .The author explores the discrepancies not only between recent literary theory and the aims of Renaissance poetry, but also between Renaissance poetic theory and practice. . . .The book that Mattison has written deserves a wide audience and as close and considerate attention as he bestows on the poets he so admirable and admiringly explores.
1500-1900 Studies In English Literature
Andrew Mattison's The Unimagined in the English Renaissance: Poetry and the Limits of Mimesis argues that the purpose of mimesis overflows beyond mimesis into the unnamed and unseen. The purpose of representation is not to document something but to excite an image in someone else's mind. Mattison is interested in images of scarcity in connection with Spenser's pastoral poetry as linked via melancholy to a dearth of poetic materials, and in the differential perceptions of the Bower of Bliss among its various describes in The Faerie Queene. . . .Mattison is also interested in lyric closure and the ways in which poems refuse to close.
CHOICE
This book investigates the representative powers of language in early modern poetry—the powers, limits, and difficulties of description as well as poets' doubts about both the efficacy and virtue of mimesis. Mattison (Univ. of Toledo) offers intensely detailed readings of Spenser, Sidney, Donne, and Milton, looking at repeated images of veils and landscapes and at poetic attempts (especially by Milton) to create a poetic language that offers a glimpse of something beyond mimesis. Though grounded in particular texts, this dense, theoretical book will be heavy going for many. However, Mattison's conclusions are powerful and exceedingly well supported, repaying the attention required. Summing Up: Recommended. Graduate students, researchers.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781611475975
Publisher:
Fairleigh Dickinson
Publication date:
12/01/2012
Pages:
186
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Andrew Mattison is associate professor of English at the University of Toledo.

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