Digressive Voices in Early Modern English Literature by Anne Cotterill

Digressive Voices in Early Modern English Literature by Anne Cotterill

By Anne Cotterill

Cotterill turns feminist sensitivity towards silenced voices to appear afresh at significant nondramatic texts through Donne, Marvell, Browne, Milton, and Dryden. Anne Cotterill examines richly digressive audio system who carve literary mazes via a perilous global for mental, political, and poetic survival--and assault.

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Digressive Voices in Early Modern English Literature

Cotterill turns feminist sensitivity towards silenced voices to seem afresh at significant nondramatic texts via Donne, Marvell, Browne, Milton, and Dryden. Anne Cotterill examines richly digressive audio system who carve literary mazes via a perilous global for mental, political, and poetic survival--and assault.

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In Richard II, v. iii. 102 (Hence, Milton teases the reader with God’s creative delight that sends four streams ‘wand’ring’ through Paradise with innocent ‘mazy error’, IV. 239). Digression may mean transgression, that is, ‘moral deviation or going astray’ and divergence from a rule or ‘right’ course; Shakespeare’s Tarquin anticipates his rape of Lucrece as ‘my digression’ (l. 103 At the approach of the English civil wars Gilbert Watts retranslates Bacon’s De Dignitate et Augmentis Scientiarum (1640), where we find ‘So man, while he aspired to be like God in knowledge, digressed and fell’ (‘Homo, dum ad Scientiam divinae parem aspiraret, praevaricatus est et lapsus’, vii.

The speaker does not forsake the muses, rather stealthily returns them to the battlefield. Soon afterwards, in Upon Appleton House, Marvell thinks more deeply about the movement for England and poetry between garden and battlefield. Out of a complex rhetorical heritage, the digression in seventeenthcentury England becomes available as a strategic and ambiguous figure. Cave, The Cornucopian Text, 157. For copious writing as a various ‘feast of the mind’, a sensuous movable feast, see ibid. 25. On the ‘hunger’ for ‘a fictional feast’ of talk, of dialogue, see 103–4 in Cave’s chapter on Erasmus’ Convivium religiosum.

Cave notes a connection between an interest in the productivity of individual words and the fragmenting pressures exerted on the unifying force of language in sixteenth-century Europe by textual and linguistic scholarship: immense pressures were being exerted on the epistemological status of language by the intensive reappraisal of Scripture and of classical culture, that is to say, the whole corpus of consecrated writing; the fissures which began to appear in longestablished theological and ethical structures provoked an urgent desire, in all camps, to seal the leaks and prevent the fragmentation of the logos.

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