Courtly Letters in the Age of Henry VIII

Courtly Letters in the Age of Henry VIII : Literary Culture and the Arts of Deceit

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This revisionary study of the origins of courtly poetry reveals the culture of spectatorship and voyeurism that shaped early Tudor English literary life. Through research into the reception of Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde, it demonstrates how Pandarus became the model of the early modern courtier. His blend of counsel, secrecy and eroticism informed the behaviour of poets, lovers, diplomats and even Henry VIII himself. In close readings of the poetry of Hawes and Skelton, the drama of the court, the letters of Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn, the writings of Thomas Wyatt, and manuscript anthologies and early printed books, Seth Lerer illuminates a 'Pandaric' world of displayed bodies, surreptitious letters and transgressive performances. In the process, he redraws the boundaries between the medieval and the Renaissance and illustrates the centrality of the verse epistle to the construction of subjectivity.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 272 pages
  • 152 x 228 x 17mm | 416g
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Revised ed.
  • 7 Halftones, unspecified
  • 0521035279
  • 9780521035279
  • 1,964,622

Table of contents

List of illustrations; Acknowledgements; Note on editions and abbreviations; 1. Pretexts: Chaucer's Pandarus and the origins of courtly discourse; 2. The King's Pandars: performing courtiership in the 1510s; 3. The King's hand: body politics in the letters of Henry VIII; 4. Private quotations, public memories: Troilus and Criseyde and the politics of the manuscript anthology; 5. Wyatt, Chaucer, Tottel: the verse epistle and the subjects of the courtly lyric; Notes; Index.
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Review quote

"...Lerer has written an elegant book. His chapters are grounded in close readings of literary texts, and he has presented a nuanced, challenging argument in well-turned phrases free of theoretical jargon." Mary Hill Cole, Mary Baldwin College "Lerer's is one of the most impressive of the volumes I've read." Frank Kermode in the London Review of Books "Lerer also offers some strong readings, especially of King Henry's love letters. And he comments well on manuscript collections of verse. This book belongs in libraries supporting graduate work in English literature and history." E.D. Hill, Choice
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