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‘Much augmented‘ and ‘somewhat beautified’: Revisions in Three Female Complaints of the 1590s.
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Education, Department of Languages. Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Department of Language, Literature and Intercultural Studies. (KuFo)ORCID iD: 0000-0003-4461-0233
2016 (English)In: Modern philology, ISSN 0026-8232, E-ISSN 1545-6951, Vol. 113, no 3, 310-330 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This essay focuses on revisions in Samuel Daniel’s The Complaint of Rosamond (1592, rev. 1594), Thomas Churchyard’s Shores Wife (1563, rev. 1593), and Michael Drayton’s Matilda (1594, rev. 1596), examining intrageneric connections visible in the revisions as indicative of a dialogic process of genre formation in the complaint group. The essay argues that Churchyard’s, Daniel’s and Drayton’s revised versions to an important extent were “corrected,” “augmented,” or “beautified” in dialogue with other poems in the complaint group, and that this affected the shape of the revisions and, by extension, of the genre as a whole. By exploring specifically the three complaints that were thoroughly revised in the 1590s, and by charting revisions as well their effects, the analysis points to differences between the revisions, but also indicates that they have a number of tendencies in common: all three revised poems are longer than the original versions, and all add focus on their heroines; elaborated descriptions of beauty, added or expanded speeches, and increased emotional focus all seem designed to heighten drama as well as reader sympathy, and they make for more developed characterization. Mrs. Shore’s competitive boasting of her beauty, Rosamond’s warnings against the miseries of marrying an older man, and Matilda’s paradoxical rhetoric are some features that were expanded on by Churchyard, Daniel, and Drayton. Disparate as the examples may seem in isolation, this essay shows how they can still be described as developing or changing the scale of a topic already existing in the repertoire of the female complaint. Seemingly designed to strengthen the cases for the individual complaint heroines, at times, though, some additions can be seen to undermine the assumed intention, thus contributing to the self-contradictory characteristic of many complaints. The shining exception that proves the rule is Matilda, the chaste heroine whose saintliness is almost complete in Drayton’s 1596 text. The essay thus shows that by tracing the emulative dialogue behind the revisions, we can understand on the one hand why the revised complaints show certain features, and on the other how the genre was shaped in an ongoing dialogue between poets and poems.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. Vol. 113, no 3, 310-330 p.
Keyword [en]
Complaint, genre, aemulatio, Samuel Daniel, Thomas Churchyard, Michael Drayton, The Complaint of Rosamond, Shores Wife, Matilda
National Category
Languages and Literature
Research subject
English
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-39118ISI: 000368588100024OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-39118DiVA: diva2:896990
Available from: 2016-01-23 Created: 2016-01-23 Last updated: 2016-03-11Bibliographically approved

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Swärdh, Anna
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