‘As I, for one, who thus my habits change’, Mary Wroth and the Abandonment of the Sidney/Herbert Familial Discourse
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A seemingly perfect example of an Early Modern familial discourse coalesces about that pre-eminent Renaissance family, the Sidneys. Together, Philip Sidney’s ideal knighthood, his brother Robert’s careful Neoplatonism, Mary Sidneys pious scholasticism, Mary Wroth’s innovative independence and William Herbert’s worldly statecraft offer a tantalising glimpse of a literary group that apparently perpetuated a successful image of homogenous identity for half a century. It is a commonplace of contemporary literary studies that the Sidney/Herbert familial group produced some of the most influential and pioneering writing of their age. The Early Modern recognition of Philip Sidney’s pre-eminence has, in the twentieth century, been bulwarked by critical analyses of Mary Sidney’s translations, the poetry of Robert Sidney and William Herbert, and Mary Wroth’s innovative writings, which include poetry, drama and prose. Moreover, critics have increasingly recognised the way in which the Sidney/Herbert writings both share literary formulations and embed themselves within familial referents that often employ autobiographical material. This chapter draws on these earlier readings, such as Margaret Hannay’s Philip’s Phoenix and Gary Waller’s The Sidney Family Romance.
KeywordsPolitical Discourse Female Character Homogenous Identity Woman Writer Final Scene
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