"The Sound of Virtue" by Blair Worden

The Sound of Virtue Philip Sidney's 'Arcadia' and Elizabethan Politics Blair Worden

Format:
Paperback
Publication date:
22 Apr 2014
ISBN:
9780300209655
Imprint:
Yale University Press
Dimensions:
432 pages: 235 x 156mm
Sales territories:
World

Philip Sidney's Arcadia, written in about 1580, is a romance, a love story, a work of wit and enchantment set in an ancient and mythical land. But, as Blair Worden now reveals, it is also a grave and urgent commentary on Elizabethan politics. Under the protective guise of pastoral fiction, says Worden, Sidney produced a searching reflection on the misgovernment of Elizabeth I and on the failings of monarchy as a system of government.

Elizabeth's failure to resist the Catholic advance at home and abroad and her apparent resolve to marry the Catholic heir to the French throne seemed likely to bring tyranny and persecution to England, which provoked a radical political dissent there. Worden reconstructs the dramatic events taking place while the Arcadia was composed and shows for the first time the important role they played in Sidney's work. He also closely analyzes the text of Arcadia, pointing out the distinctive vocabulary used by those sympathetic to the cause of Protestant unity in Europe, a cause that Sidney came to champion. Worden's new perspective transforms our understanding of Sidney's masterpiece and offers a fresh approach to the relationship between the history and literature of the Renaissance.

Blair Worden is professor of early modern history at the University of Sussex.