Ovidian Bibliofictions and the Tudor Book: Metamorphosing Classical Heroines in Late Medieval and Renaissance England, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Ovidian Bibliofictions and the Tudor Book

Metamorphosing Classical Heroines in Late Medieval and Renaissance England, 1st Edition

By Lindsay Ann Reid


230 pages

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Ovidian Bibliofictions and the Tudor Book examines the historical and the fictionalized reception of Ovid’s poetry in the literature and books of Tudor England. It does so through the study of a particular set of Ovidian narratives-namely, those concerning the protean heroines of the Heroides and Metamorphoses. In the late medieval and Renaissance eras, Ovid’s poetry stimulated the vernacular imaginations of authors ranging from Geoffrey Chaucer and John Gower to Isabella Whitney, William Shakespeare, and Michael Drayton. Ovid’s English protégés replicated and expanded upon the Roman poet’s distinctive and frequently remarked ’bookishness’ in their own adaptations of his works. Focusing on the postclassical discourses that Ovid’s poetry stimulated, Ovidian Bibliofictions and the Tudor Book engages with vibrant current debates about the book as material object as it explores the Ovidian-inspired mythologies and bibliographical aetiologies that informed the sixteenth-century creation, reproduction, and representation of books. Further, author Lindsay Ann Reid’s discussions of Ovidianism provide alternative models for thinking about the dynamics of reception, adaptation, and imitatio. While there is a sizeable body of published work on Ovid and Chaucer as well as on the ubiquitous Ovidianism of the 1590s, there has been comparatively little scholarship on Ovid’s reception between these two eras. Ovidian Bibliofictions and the Tudor Book begins to fill this gap between the ages of Chaucer and Shakespeare by dedicating attention to the literature of the early Tudor era. In so doing, this book also contributes to current discussions surrounding medieval/Renaissance periodization.


"[Reid] makes a refreshingly eclectic "sampling" of material from writers at the periphery to those at the centre of the canon, from ballads and broadsheets to Shakespearean drama …"

- Review of English Studies

"This is a fascinating and thought-provoking book, which should be read by anyone interested in classical reception in this period."

- Spenser Review

"Fascinating … an impressively wrought and thoroughly researched intricacy of texts, intertexts, literary transmission, and of the real and fictional figures adapting and moulding the reception of arguably the most popular classical writer from the late medieval era to the Tudor age."

- International Journal of the Classical Tradition

"The crux of Reid's thesis is an important idea: the representation of books in literature allows us to glimpse not only the cultural weight of specific texts, but also the "material identities of books and the historical conditions of the book trade"."

- SHARP News

"(…)This is an excellent book with some fascinating insights. It is very detailed in its literary references and covers a lot of material."

- Natasha Amendola, Monash University in Parergon: Journal of the Australian and New Zealand Association for Medieval and Early Modern Studies, volume 33.1 (2016).

Table of Contents

'If all the yearth wer parchment scribable': Ovidian heroines in the Querelle des Femmes. 'Hir name, allas! Is publisshed so wyde': fama, gossip, and the dissemination of a pseudo-Ovidian heroine. 'Both false and also true': Ovidian heroines, epistolary elegy, and fictionalized materiality. 'Our sainted legendarie': the Anglo-Ovidian heroines. Appendix: Latin editions of Ovid in Tudor England. Early printed materials consulted.

About the Author

Lindsay Ann Reid is Lecturer in English at the National University of Ireland, Galway.

About the Series

Material Readings in Early Modern Culture

Material Readings in Early Modern Culture

This series provides a forum for studies that consider the material forms of texts as part of an investigation into early modern English culture. The editors invite proposals of a multi- or interdisciplinary nature, and particularly welcome proposals that combine archival research with an attention to the theoretical models that might illuminate the reading, writing, and making of texts, as well as projects that take innovative approaches to the study of material texts, both in terms the kinds of primary materials under investigation, and in terms of methodologies. What are the questions that have yet to be asked about writing in its various possible embodied forms? Are there varieties of materiality that are critically neglected? How does form mediate and negotiate content? In what ways do the physical features of texts inform how they are read, interpreted and situated? Consideration will be given to both monographs and collections of essays. The range of topics covered in this series includes, but is not limited to:

-History of the book, publishing, the book trade, printing, typography (layout, type, typeface, blank/white space, paratextual apparatus)

-Technologies of the written word: ink, paper, watermarks, pens, presses

-Surprising or neglected material forms of writing

-Print culture


-Manuscript studies

-Social space, context, location of writing

-Social signs, cues, codes imbued within the material forms of texts

-Ownership and the social practices of reading: marginalia, libraries, environments of reading and reception

-Codicology, palaeography and critical bibliography

-Production, transmission, distribution and circulation

-Archiving and the archaeology of knowledge

-Orality and oral culture

-The material text as object or thing

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