The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia

The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia

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Philip Sidney was in his early twenties when he wrote his "Old" Arcadia for the amusement of his younger sister, the Countess of Pembroke. The book, which he called "a trifle, and that triflingly handled", reflects their youthful vitality. The "Old" Arcadia tells a romantic story in a manner comparable to that of Shakespeare's early comedies. It is divided into five "Acts", and abounds in lively speeches, dialogues and quasi-dramatic tableaux. Two young princes, Pyrocles and Musidorus, disguise themselves as an Amazon and a shepherd to gain access to the Arcadian Princesses, who have been taken into semi-imprisonment by their father to avoid the dangers foretold by an oracle. As a vehicle for Sidney's prophetic ideas about English versification, the "Old" Arcadia also includes over 70 poems in a wide variety of metres and genres. In clarity, symmetry and coherence the "Old" version is superior both to the ambitious, but unfinished "New" Arcadia and the amalgamated, "composite" version, a hybrid monster which Sidney himself never envisaged.
Katherine Duncan-Jones is the author of a "Biography of Sidney: Court Poet", and editor of "Oxford Author"'s "Sidney" and "Oxford Poetry Library"'s "Sidney".
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Product details

  • Paperback | 422 pages
  • 116 x 182 x 26mm | 140.61g
  • Oxford University Press
  • Oxford Paperbacks
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • notes, chronology, glossary, bibliography, index
  • 019281690X
  • 9780192816900

Table of contents

"The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia". Appendices: a debate on versification; "The lad Philisides" - a canzone.
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504 ratings
3.62 out of 5 stars
5 24% (119)
4 33% (164)
3 31% (156)
2 9% (45)
1 4% (20)
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