Elizabethan Fiction Essay

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FICTION Sir Philip Sidney (1554-86): Like Lyly, Sidney also prompted a number of imitators. His Arcadia (1590) is the first pastoral romance in English prose, just as Spenser's The Shepherd's Calendar is the first verse pastoral romance. All the happenings of the story are envisaged in an imaginary land of idyllic beauty with shepherds, shepherdesses, running brooks, and lush scenery. It tells the story of Basilius, king of Arcadia, who settles in a village with his wife and two daughters named Pamela and Philoclea. Two princes from abroad come to Arcadia and start courting the two girls. One disguises himself as a shepherd and the other as an Amazon. Complications start when both Basilius and his wife fall in love with the "Amazon", the former taking him to be a real Amazon and the latter, after discovering his real identity. Everything is finally unravelled by Euarchus, king of Macedonia and father 6f one of the princes. Everything ends happily. This was the first version of the Arcadia, known as the Old Arcadia. In the revised version Sidney included many complications and also added'much symbolism and didacticism which rendered it almost of the nature of The Faerie Queene. In the Arcadia, observes Daiches, "Ideal love, ideal friendship, and the ideal ruler are, directly and indirectly, discussed, suggested, and embodied." The style of the Arcadia is as artificial and attitudinised as that of Euphues. It is, to quote Daiches again, "highly 'conceited', full of elaborate analogies, balanced parenthetical asides, pathetic fallacies, symmetrically answering clauses and other devices of an immature prose entering suddenly into the world of conscious literary artifice. "One of Sidney's constant devices is to take a word and, somewhat like Shakespeare, toss it about till its meaning is sucked dry. AS an example of pathetic fallacy consider his reference to the cool

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