Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: 'Wounded Harts' : metaphor and desire in the epic-romances of Tasso, Sidney, and Spenser
Author: Phelps, Paul Chandler
ISNI:       0000 0004 5369 5299
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Full text unavailable from EThOS. Restricted access.
Access from Institution:
If we consider the representation of the body in the epic-romances of Torquato Tasso, Philip Sidney, and Edmund Spenser, certain instances of wounding and laceration emerge as crucial turning points in the development of their respective narratives: Clorinda’s redemptive mutilation, Parthenia’s blood-drenched pallor, Amavia’s disquieting suicide, Venus’s insatiable orifice, Amoret’s “perfect hole.” This thesis affords a detailed comparative study of such passages, contending that the wound assumed a critical metaphoric dimension in sixteenth-century epic-romance literature, particularly in relation to the perceived association between body condition and erotic desire. Along with its function as a marker of martial valor and somatic sacredness, the wound, I argue, increasingly is designated in these epic-romances as an interiorizing apparatus, one liable to accrue at any instance into a surplus of unanticipated meaning. As such, the wound becomes an emblem in these texts of what I call the phenomenology of desire—the equation of consummation and loss—as well as the aesthetic and metaphoric mechanism by which these writers seek to overcome it. The four chapters of this thesis constitute individual but cumulative points of response to the problem of thinking about desire as a type of wound. For Tasso, a wound poses a challenge to physical, psychological, and spiritual integrity, but its remarkable capacity for aestheticization also allows Tasso to envision it as a synthesizer of sacred and erotic affects. For Sidney, the prospect that a wound could define a body as courageous or pathetic, as sacred or corrupt, became both politically and socially troubling, and the New Arcadia, I argue, proleptically attempts to defend Sidney against interpretations of wounds that register them as manifestations of corrupt desire. For Spenser, body fracture and erotic wounding are analogic (indeed, almost indistinguishable), and The Faerie Queene investigates the prospect that confusing these analogies can become an empowering, even revelatory experience. In each of these epic-romances, a wound serves both a literal and a figurative function and, in this way, is established as the foremost image by which these writers imagine strength and mutilation, affect and heroism, epic and romance as being inextricably bound.
Supervisor: McCabe, Richard A. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: English Language and Literature ; Early modern English literature (1550-1780) ; Early Modern Britain and Europe ; Torquato Tasso ; Philip Sidney ; Edmund Spenser ; Early Modern Literature ; Renaissance Literature ; epic-romance ; wounds ; Early Modern medicine ; body and self ; metaphor ; desire in literature.