While earlier critics have demonstrated significant insight into the relationship between the classical world and the early modern period, Humanism and Classical Crisis: Anxiety, Intertexts, and the Miltonic Memory, by Jacob Blevins, offers a new psychoanalytic approach to understanding classical reception, specifically during the early modern period. Blevins asserts that influence and imitation are primarily driven by anxious desires to identify the poetic self with the past while simultaneously affirming the autonomy and individuality of the self within its own cultural, ideological, and poetic moment. Since the poet cannot hold positions simultaneously in both past and present, anxiety irrupts as the poet fails to understand the fissures in his sense of identity and how that identity is articulated in poetic expression.
Blevins grounds his approach in the theories of Jacques Lacan, whose work challenges the very notions of what identity is and, as a result, exposes the complexities of identity formation. Areas and authors covered include imitations and translations of classical works of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in England and France by Andrew Marvell, Edmund Spencer, Pierre Ronsard, Joachim Du Bellay, Ben Jonson, Sir Thomas Wyatt, and John Milton.
This book not only provides a new perspective on early modern poetic imitation, but also offers a foundational methodology for examining the classical presence within the modern self.
About the Author
Jacob Blevins is professor of English at McNeese State University.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 The Convergence of Voice, The Artifacts of Memory: Theoretical Orientations 14
Anxiety and the Lack of Lack 14
Anxious Influence and a Lacanian Reconceptualization of Bloom 20
Humanism and Ideologies of the Self 25
Chapter 2 The Renaissance, Rome, and Humanism's Classical Crisis 30
Rome's Ruins and the Resurrection of the Secular Self 32
Rome on the English Stage 45
Chapter 3 Anxiety and Constructions of the Text: Dialogues with a Classical Past 54
Lyricism and the Processes of Identity in the French Pléiade 55
Marvell's Two Gardens: Rewriting the Roman Hortus 65
Catullus and the Sons of Ben 73
Chapter 4 Miltonic Elegy and the Rebirth of a Roman (Split) Subject 85
Latin Elegy and the (New) Roman Subject 91
"Christ's Nativity" and Exorcising the Pagan Past 104
Lycidas and Allusive Self-Consciousness 111
Chapter 5 Milton's Heroic Action and Formal Falls 125
The Hero Is in the Form 128
Epic Action and Tragic Falls 133
Selected Bibliography 155