Donne, Castiglione and the Poetry of Courtliness by Peter DeSa Wiggins

By Peter DeSa Wiggins

Donne, Castiglione, and the Poetry of CourtlinessPeter DeSa WigginsThe impression of The ebook of the Courtier at the paintings of John Donne.John Donne has been defined as a "poet of ambition," who used his poems as brokers in his quest for preferment one of the elites of Elizabethan and early Stuart London. before the level of the impact on Donne's paintings of that era's so much influential court docket textual content -- Castiglione's The ebook of the Courtier -- hasn't ever been absolutely explored. Courtier used to be Elizabethan England's authorized repository of the advanced social codes that ruled the habit of these wanting development at courtroom. In those revelatory readings of a few of Donne's best-known poems, Peter DeSa Wiggins demonstrates that this e-book fired Donne's mind's eye and that, in his secular poetry, Donne applies, adapts, and unfolds to its fullest strength the character of the courtier. In poems resembling "The Canonization," "A Nocturnall upon S. Lucies Day," "Aire and Angels," "The Flea," and "The Exstasie," Donne confronts his elite readers with the main exacting general of aristocratic behavior whereas providing his skills for delicate executive posts. by way of substituting social codes for poetic conference because the formative precept of his artwork, Donne assumed the voice of a robust aristocracy, became it to his virtue, outfitted one political profession out of it (which he lost), then equipped one other, and within the approach revolutionized his artwork form.Peter DeSa Wiggins is Professor of English on the collage of William and Mary and writer of Figures in Ariosto's Tapestry: personality and layout within the Orlando Furioso.ContentsIntroductionThe Satirical paintings of the Disabused The artwork of deadlock The English Secretary Poets and attorneys the way forward for an phantasm The having a look GlassAesthetic Play Courtly artwork "On his Mistris" sleek cases Courtly ComedySprezzatura or Transcendence: From Travesty to Palinode Travesty A Lesson in Deportment PalinodeDiscerning Insincerity the nice Courtier The undesirable Courtier Sincerity Then and NowConclusion

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The eldest sons of noble of¤ceholders in her regime inherited some—not all—of their fathers’ of¤ces and had to compete for the rest with contenders of lower origin, commoners or low ranking gentlemen, who—like Donne—had worked their way up the ladder of achievement at the Inns of Court and the universities and had exhibited exceptional aptitudes and personal qualities. English readers would have viewed Castiglione’s Elisabetta as teaching her courtiers, by granting them freedom of speech, how impossible it would be for them to achieve on their own the advantages of a benevolent despotism like the English Elizabeth’s.

As a poet, I may have used words to attract powerful patrons, “wealths deep oceans,” but, as a lawyer, what has Coscus done with words, if not crush the vulnerable? My words may be impure, tainted with self-interest, inconstant with respect to higher truths, but no one has to listen to them in the way that Coscus’s words must be attended to, even though each constitutes a rape. Power corrupts language, along with everything else, insists the speaker of Satyre II, and there is no escape from the impasse except the partial one that comes with candidly acknowledging it.

He plodded on at the Inns of Court until “time (which . . must make a calfe an oxe)” (41–42) made him a lawyer. Nor can the vast majority of lawyers ever hope to rise as high as Hatton or to exercise their own genius freely. ” Submitting to the legal profession, fashioning oneself along lines laid down by real powers, may exhibit common sense, but it also in most cases results in an exchange of the “fondling, motley humorist,” the “giddie, fantastique Poet,” for a prostitute (64). Wesley Milgate cites a passage in translation from a medieval manuscript, Liber de similitudinibus et exemplis, to explain precisely why Donne could re- The Satirical Art of the Disabused 39 gard Coscus as “more” shameless than a prostitute: “So many hire lawyers to defend their property, but they consume it.

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