The Poetics of Literary Transfer in Early Modern France and England  book cover
1st Edition

The Poetics of Literary Transfer in Early Modern France and England

ISBN 9780754664451
Published September 28, 2010 by Routledge
290 Pages

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Book Description

Examining both familiar and underappreciated texts, Hassan Melehy foregrounds the relationships that early modern French and English writers conceived with both their classical predecessors and authors from flourishing literary traditions in neighboring countries. In order to present their own avowedly national literatures as successfully surpassing others, they engaged in a paradoxical strategy of presenting other traditions as both inspiring and dead. Each of the book's four sections focuses on one early modern author: Joachim Du Bellay, Edmund Spenser, Michel de Montaigne, and William Shakespeare. Melehy details the elaborate strategies that each author uses to rewrite and overcome the work of predecessors. His book touches on issues highly pertinent to current early modern studies: among these are translation, the relationship between classicism and writing in the vernacular, the role of literature in the consolidation of the state, attitudes toward colonial expansion and the "New World," and definitions of modernity and the past.

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; Part 1 Du Bellay: Defending the space of early modern culture; Time in Rome; A dream language. Part 2 Spenser: Translation, imitation, ruin; Visions of Spenser; Antiquities of Britain. Part 3 Montaigne: Institutional authority; The words of vanity; America, the end of Western dreaming. Part 4 Shakespeare: The Sonnets and time; Old and new Roman times; The representation of the other; Works cited; Index.

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Hassan Melehy teaches in the Department of Romance Languages at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has published widely on early modern literature and philosophy, critical theory, and cinema studies.


'Hassan Melehy's brilliant and innovative The Poetics of Literary Transfer in Early Modern France and England is the first to offer precise accounts of the literary relationships between four Renaissance authors: Du Bellay, Spenser, Montaigne, and Shakespeare. Staging their ongoing discussion on the subject of Rome and its legacy, this fascinating book brings to light a myriad of textual engagements and intertextual moments. Melehy's sensitive and erudite readings revivify the humanist ideals of friendship and dialogue, recasting them as inspiring and galvanzing "mutual regards and intermeshings".' Deanne Williams, York University, Canada 'In The Poetics of Literary Transfer in Early Modern France and England, Hassan Melehy moves through subtle readings of Joachim Du Bellay, Spenser, Montaigne, and Shakespeare toward some of the most profound reflections on literary transmission since Thomas Greene’s The Light in Troy (1982). Whereas Greene’s early modern poets experienced pathos in their descent from an ever-receding Roman origin, Melehy’s poets find in it a liberating energeia.' John Watkins, Recent Studies in the English Renaissance, Studies in English Literature '... the volume is written in an elegant prose and is detail-oriented as well as erudite. It will assuredly be read with both pleasure and profit.' Renaissance Quarterly 'It is difficult to do justice to the density of the arguments in this rich and suggestive volume, in a short review. There is actually enough material for several books. ...The Poetics of Literary Transfer makes a significant contribution to the fields of early modern comparative literature and theory.' Sixteenth Century Journal ’The intricate and careful readings frequently tease out phonetic, ety­mological, religious, and historical details that greatly enrich the understanding of these early modern texts.’ Early Modern Literary Studies ’This deeply intelligent book arrived at a fortuitous time, when interest in