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Title: Leaves which whisper'd what they could not say : Petrarch reading early modern English and Scottish Petrarchism, c.1530-1630
Author: Hart, Patrick
ISNI:       0000 0004 2740 5155
Awarding Body: University of Strathclyde
Current Institution: University of Strathclyde
Date of Award: 2011
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This thesis brings a fresh engagement with the writings and career of Francesco Petrarca (Petrarch) and with recent Italian scholarship to a reading of the Petrarchan sonnet sequence in England and Scotland. Rather than focusing on questions of influence, it borrows from Harold Bloom's notion of postfiguration to argue that certain preoccupations of the early modern sonnet sequence are anticipated by the Canzoniere. In particular, it examines how Petrarch's wranglings with a series of imbricated dyads—withdrawal and revelation, introspection and celebrity, public and private—are played out again in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It offers new interpretations of not only individual sonnets and sequences, but also the longer narrative of the lyric's changing relationship to both its public audience and its private reader. The thesis is divided into two parts. Part one examines the relations between poet, individual reader, the poem and its publics that Petrarch's Canzoniere establishes. Chapter one explores Petrarch’s insistence upon the importance of the affective response of the individual reader in the establishment of a transhistorical audience. Chapter two argues that while Petrarch’s lyric practice has its origins in epistolary exchange, it enacts an always ambivalent turn away from its embeddedness in the social circumstances of its composition, both inwards into the recesses of selfhood and outwards to a wider envisioned audience. This turn has profound implications for the politics of lyric practice, which are explored in relation to how the early Tudor sonneteers negotiate with political power, social embeddedness and the epistolary. Part two consists of three readings of individual sonnet sequences. Chapter three looks at William Drummond’s Petrarchan negotiation of conflicted local and national sentiments in the wake of the Union of the Crowns of 1603. Chapter four examines the Petrarchan rupturings of the public/private dichotomy in Lady Mary Wroth’s Pamphilia, to Amphilanthus. It then investigates Pamphilia’s concern with thought’s (in)constancy. Finally, chapter five reads Shakespeare’s sonnets as performing an uncanny return to Petrarchan origins in their obsessive preoccupation with death and oblivion. It is ultimately a shared fear of oblivion, this chapter concludes, that most forcefully shapes the peculiar sense of time, the ferocious introspection, and the pursuit of fame we find in both poets’ works.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available