The Grammar of Families in Sidney’s Old Arcadia

  • Elizabeth Mazzola


Among Milton’s many complaints in the divorce tracts (1643–44) is the shrill claim that in them he is writing “no meer amatorious novel” (DDD 2.256), a phrase elsewhere linked repeatedly to Sidney’s Arcadia.1 Yet Sidney’s unusual picture of married life and domestic embarrassment in the Old Arcadia is strangely suggestive of the torpor Milton himself later outlines: the frustrated Gynecia and wearied Basilius who find themselves in bed as much resemble two sorry inhabitants of Plato’s cave, stranded together and in the dark, as they do the graphic picture Milton will summon up sixty years later, “where no correspondence is of the mind… instead of beeing one flesh, they will be rather two carkasses chain’d unnaturally together; or as it may hap’n, a living soule bound to a dead corps” (DDD 16.326).2


Married Life English Prose Peasant Revolt Prose Writer Romance Fiction 
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© Elizabeth Mazzola 2003

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  • Elizabeth Mazzola

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