Approaches to Authorship in the Arcadia Continuations
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Thus Edmund Spenser describes his continuation of Chaucer’s ‘Squire’s Tale’, which he believes to be incomplete because ‘wicked Time … that famous moniment hath quite defaste’, leaving it ‘brought to nought by little bits’ (28). Sidney’s Arcadia was a much more recent unfinished work, in ‘bits’ because of the author’s death rather than historical decay. Yet the metaphors used in Spenser’s disclaimer, with its description of following the author’s footsteps and being infused with his ‘spirit’, will be familiar after reading the paratexts of the Arcadia continuations. Like many Early Modern prefaces, they use modesty tropes as a rhetorical technique, invoking the reader’s sympathy by acknowledging potential flaws. It is significant, however, that all these texts treat their relationship to the Arcadia — and their authors’ relationship to Sidney — as something particularly in need of explanation, and even of apology. While many of the images used are conventional in Renaissance discussions of imitation, they take on additional valences by being applied to this particular form of inter-textuality. These para textual frames therefore constitute an important source of evidence about Early Modern attitudes toward authorship and the writing of continuations.
KeywordsSeventeenth Century Title Page Happy Ending Literary Property Additional Valence
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