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Title: The Elizabethan Ovid : a study of the Ovidian spirit in Elizabethan poetry, 1589-1610
Author: Forrest, John F.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1945
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A study of Elizabethan Ovidianism would be interesting if only for the reason that it illustrates the complexity of the civilisation which gave it birth. For the last decade of sixteenth - century 'England was a period of changing values and heightened sensibilities. It was criss- crossed by so many different strands and the strands themselves were so bewilderingly interwoven that the fabric of its thought might appear at first sight to be lacking in a master -design. And yet such an impression would be quite misleading. Every transitional age has its inevitable contradictions. The conceptions inherited from the past are in process of being modified and the new ideas are themselves coloured by the old. And .so it proved with the Elizabethan age, for it bridged the gulf separating the Middle Ages with its corporate life on the one hand and the modern world with its individualism on the other. The Ovidian movement in Elizabethan literature, then, was limited in its range. Its theme was love, but for most of the Ovidians that term meant no more than a surrender to the senses. Only Spenser, Drayton, Chapman, and, in certain instances, Donne gave it a deeper significance and invested it with something of a spiritual grace. But even the fleshly raptures of the others should not be taken too seriously. With them, as with Ovid, the love -element was often a pretext for displaying their craftsmanship, for fashioning word- 200 patterns of exquisite design. Like Ovid, again, they delighted in the pictorial values of their art, and decorated their verses with an abundance of sensuous images and mythological conceits. And, like Ovid too, they were, in an artistic sense, voluptuaries, living at ease in a world of the emotions and neglecting the more exacting pleasures of the mind. But within their limitations, they attained an astonishingly high level of perfection. In spite of their exaggerated sentiments and their no less exaggerated colours, they helped to foster a feeling for style in sixteenth -century England; and after the barren years which had followed the death of Chaucer, they set a standard of writing which might certainly be bettered but could never be ignored.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available