Abstract

This essay explores the vernacular genealogies behind the rhetorical interlacement of disease, desire, and poverty in the sonnets of Robert Sidney, with references to Shakespeare’s sonnets; and it considers the implications of bringing the medieval languages of poetic selfhood to bear on our interpretation of Renaissance texts. I argue that Sidney’s figural alignment of bodily sickness, pecuniary lack, and unrequited desire contains traces of medieval English begging poetry—namely the works of Geoffrey Chaucer, John Lydgate, and Thomas Hoccleve. Consequently, the essay raises questions about the relationship between early modern Petrarchan poetry—a Renaissance discourse par excellence—and the discursive structures and forms of subjectivity found in English medieval poetry, problematizing traditional accounts of English literary history.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1522-9270
Print ISSN
0039-3657
Pages
pp. 21-43
Launched on MUSE
2015-03-04
Open Access
No
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