Title Solitude and Speechlessness
Subtitle Renaissance Writing and Reading in Isolation
Author Andrew Mattison
ISBN 9781487504045
List price USD 75.00
Price outside India Available on Request
Original price USD 75.00
Binding Hardbound
No of pages 272
Book size 153 x 235 mm
Publishing year 2019
Original publisher University of Toronto Press
Published in India by .
Exclusive distributors Viva Books Private Limited
Sales territory Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka
Status New Arrival
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“Written in lively and engaging prose, Solitude and Speechlessness returns readers to the problematic of the literary text through a new and exciting lens, reminding us of the hermeneutic humility and epistemological uncertainty that we should exercise when entering into this strange yet rewarding period of literary history.”

Grant Williams, Department of English, Carleton University


Solitude and Speechlessness is a serious, sophisticated, and well-informed discussion of a series of English poets from the late-sixteenth to the late-seventeenth-century, centered on the relations between authorial self-consciousness and literary history.”

Gordon Braden, Department of English, University of Virginia



Recent literary criticism, along with academic culture at large, has stressed collaboration as essential to textual creation and sociability as a literary and academic virtue. Solitude and Speechlessness proposes an alternative understanding of writing with a complementary mode of reading: literary engagement, it suggests, is the meeting of strangers, each in a state of isolation. The Renaissance authors discussed in this study did not necessarily work alone or without collaborators, but they were uncertain who would read their writings and whether those readers would understand them.

These concerns are represented in their work through tropes, images, and characterizations of isolation. The figure of the isolated, misunderstood, or misjudged poet is a preoccupation that relies on imagining the lives of wandering and complaining youths, eloquent melancholics, exemplary hermits, homeless orphans, and retiring stoics; such figures acknowledge the isolation in literary experience. As a response to this isolation of literary connection, Solitude and Speechlessness proposes an interpretive mode it defines as strange reading: a reading that merges comprehension with indeterminacy and the imaginative work of interpretation with the recognition of historical difference.




Introduction: Writing in Solitude

Chapter 1. Lyric Futures: Hidden Ambitions in the Sydney-Pembroke Circle

Chapter 2. Nameless Orphans: Ambitious Poetry in an Age of Modesty

Chapter 3. The Peril of Understanding: Forms of Obscurity

Chapter 4. The Lure of Solitude: Melancholy and Eremitism as Literary Dispositions

Chapter 5. The Naked Sense of Retirement: Cowley, Marvell, Traherne

Chapter 6. Literary History in Isolation: Bacon, Hofmannsthal, and Historical Memory

Conclusion: Reading in Solitude





About the Author:

Andrew Mattison teaches in the English Department at the University of Toledo.


Target Audience:

People interested in history and literature.

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