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GASCOIGNE-SEMINAR  January 2009

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Subject:

Re: Gascoigne the most important writer 1575-79?

From:

Robert Maslen <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Discussion list on George Gascoigne <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 22 Jan 2009 15:59:36 +0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

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text/plain (367 lines)

On Lyly's stylistic and thematic repetitiveness: I guess one is tempted to
repeat one's successes, and Lyly found a couple of rich veins to mine.  One
was the stylistic experiment called Euphuism, which as G.K. Hunter points
out he subtly adapted throughout his career.  The other was the Ovidianism
that informs all his plays after Campaspe.  The 1580s and early 90s are the
age of Ovidianism, and Lyly helped to make them that.  Mike Pincombe is
really good on the range of means by which these plays reached a wider
audience: performances at court and in the Blackfriars, and publication,
which is another form of performance...

As Gillian would point out, though, Gascoigne had pre-empted Lyly's
Ovidianism in The Complaint of Philomene!

Greene might be an interesting comparison for both writers, since he was
influenced by both: Lyly in his earlier work, Gascoigne especially in
Greene's Never Too Late (written 1590).  Why did he return to Gascoigne in
1590, after the break with Lyly he ostentatiously makes in his Menaphon?
Perhaps because Never Too Late is quasi-autobiographical, and Gascoigne was
a pioneer in autobiography (or quasi-autobiography) in Greene's youth - a
period of his life he was reawakening in his mind by looking backwards?

(By the way, Greene's an interesting example of a writer who's BOTH
immensely various AND repetitive. He plagiarizes from himself in some of his
fictions, repeating chunks of his earlier work verbatim, while having the
temerity to criticize Shakespeare for being a plagiarist in A Groatsworth of
Wit!)

Obviously self-conscious allusion to your own work helps to reinforce your
public identity as a writer.  Gascoigne refers to himself often, and often
in similar ways: as a goofy over-grown Quixote figure, whose self-mockery
ties together all his varied productions, stamping them with his signature
as surely as Euphuism stamps Lyly's works with his (before everyone starts
copying him!).  Perhaps when Greene was wanting to rebrand himself after
breaking with the 'outmoded' Lyly he turned for help to the man he felt had
best branded himself before Euphuism.  Soon afterwards Greene found a more
up-to-date vein to work in, the cony-catching pamphlets, which better suited
his circumstances than Gascoigne's court- and country-set inventions.  But
in the meantime his self-reflections of 1589-1590 show just how central
Gascoigne and Lyly were to his idea of writing...

Sometimes one gets the sense that variety is a way of casting about for a
successful formula!  Though to do all these writers justice, none of them
stuck to one for all that long.  And none of this should detract from the
achievements of any author who wrote as variously and well as Gascoigne did.

Now I really should get on with those reports I keep putting off!!!
   


On 02/12/2009 14:59, "Gillian Austen" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Andy, thanks for this! As I've said earlier in this thread, I think
> Gascoigne's importance lies  in the range of his achievements, but I
> should also say that I don't think it's a universal measure of authorial
> greatness. Surely, different measures can apply at different times or
> with different writers? I don't think less of Shakespeare because he
> didn't write a prose fiction, or of Austen because she didn't write
> plays. But Gascoigne's significance lies surely in his range, because he
> influenced virtually ALL of the subsequent Elizabethan writers (to a
> greater or lesser extent) through his experimentation in so many genres.
> It's also inextricably linked with his historical moment - it was that
> transitional moment just as English writers began to explore the
> opportunities offered by the new ideas coming over from the Continent
> and Gascoigne was a key conduit for many of those ideas and forms, as
> well as fusing them with elements from the native tradition.
> 
> It's not so much that he could do plays and fiction, or blank verse and
> sonnets, etc; that's remarkable, yes, but not in itself a measure of
> significance. I suppose I want to see range as one measure of an
> author's significance - even as an achievement in its own right -
> because in Gascoigne's case he made such important innovations in all
> the genres he experimented in.
> 
> Gillian
> 
> Andy Kesson wrote:
>> Thanks for the lengthy reply Rob, I'm finding this thread incredibly
>> helpful!
>> 
>> I'd absolutely agree that Lyly's Anatomy is a response to The Adventures of
>> Master F.J., and in some ways I may have an easier task tracing Lyly's own
>> impact on subsequent fiction since both his character Euphues and his
>> concept of a literary Anatomy become co-opted into later publications.
>> 
>> This question of authorial greatness (which as you say ties into the idea of
>> authorial "worth" in an economic sense) based on authorial range and variety
>> really fascinates me.  How might we apply it to other periods of literature:
>> are Homer, Jane Austen and Samuel Beckett less great or worthy, for example,
>> simply because their later work appears to be in dialogue with their earlier
>> work?  Lyly's work as a whole is far more varied than often allowed, but
>> even so, his comparative stylistic and thematic repetitiveness seems in
>> itself to be important for an understanding of an early modern culture that
>> funded his publications.  This corpus redundancy is particularly striking,
>> for example, set against Gascoigne's own publications which emphasise
>> variety and anthologisation.
>> 
>> I hope some of that makes sense!
>> 
>> Andy
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> 2009/1/21 Meredith Skura <[log in to unmask]>
>> 
>>> I'm glad you agree about the interesting connections between Mirror and
>>> later autobiography, complaint, etc! I didn't deal with Cavendish, though I
>>> wish I had--especially after reading your note. Bale is in there,  partly as
>>> a feisty and monomaniacal contrast to Baldwin's almost-contemporary
>>> "tragedies." (The book is just out, Chicago 2008.)
>>> 
>>> 
>>> I'm very excited by the prospect of a chapter on Mirror for Magistrates
>>> 
>>>> and the origins of autobiography.  Do you deal with Cavendish too?  His
>>>> Life
>>>> of Wolsey represents, along with Roper's Life of More and Bale's and
>>>> Underhill's memoirs, a worm's-eye view of the history of the reformation
>>>> which seems to me to stimulate an interest in autobiography from the 1550s
>>>> onwards...  I look forward to your book with excitement!
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> -----Original Message-----
>>>> From: Discussion list on George Gascoigne on behalf of Meredith Skura
>>>> Sent: Sun 1/18/2009 5:53 PM
>>>> To: [log in to unmask]
>>>> Subject: Re: Gascoigne the most important writer 1575-79?
>>>> 
>>>> Fascinating debate!  I've also argued for the importance of  Mirror's
>>>> influence (a chapter in Tudor Autobiography)
>>>> 
>>>> Hi Andy!
>>>> 
>>>>> I think you're quite right to struggle with the terms 'influence'
>>>>> and 'impact'.  As Gillian's last email pointed out, both terms can
>>>>> be quite complex when referring to the influence or impact a single
>>>>> given writer had on her or his successors; the dividedness of the
>>>>> response to Gascoigne, for instance, can be summarized by the
>>>>> wonderfully ambiguous tribute to him she quoted from Spenser's
>>>>> Shepherd's Calendar.  Like her, I think he had an immense impact on
>>>>> his successors; Lyly's Euphues and Sidney's Old Arcadia, seem to me
>>>>> to be direct responses to The Adventures of Master F.J., and I'd
>>>>> argue that Greene's self-construction as a penitent writer, from
>>>>> Greene's Never Too Late onwards, is a clear homage to Gascoigne's
>>>>> so-called 'reformation' (itself a homage, of course, to Chaucer's).
>>>>> 
>>>>> The wonderful thing about working on pre-1580s writers is that their
>>>>> reputation is not yet fixed in our own time - and that we're still
>>>>> gathering evidence, as Gillian shows, as to their reputation in
>>>>> their own...
>>>>> 
>>>>> I agree with you that the 'greatness' of a writer shouldn't depend
>>>>> on the variety of genres they worked in.  I find it problematic to
>>>>> argue that Middleton was greater than Jonson because he wrote well
>>>>> in a wider variety of genres.  Is there any value to drawing up
>>>>> league tables for greatness, in any case?  It smacks of a marketing
>>>>> strategy, and the sweeping endorsement of a free-market capitalist
>>>>> outlook this entails.  We like names, though, don't we, and I can
>>>>> see the attraction of naming periods after people.  The Gascoigne
>>>>> period (1560-1579) could be said to succeed the Baldwin period
>>>>> (1547-1560), and the attractiveness of saying so lies in the fact
>>>>> that neither writer is well known outside academic circles, and
>>>>> placing their names at the center of decades helps to focus people's
>>>>> attention on what's rich and strange in those periods - and on the
>>>>> 'impact' they had on what came after.  The value of calling
>>>>> Middleton our second Shakespeare lies in the shock it causes, the
>>>>> debate it stirs up, the redrawing of literary maps it encourages.
>>>>> It only becomes annoying when it's taken too seriously, or when
>>>>> people fail to pick up on the obvious fact that a rethinking of
>>>>> Middleton's place in literary-theatrical history requires us to
>>>>> rethink the place of Ford, Cary, Massinger, Fletcher et al...
>>>>> 
>>>>> It seems to me that texts are as interesting to consider in terms of
>>>>> impact as authors are - and the advantage of this is it encourages
>>>>> us to include anonymous and co-authored works at the centre of the
>>>>> narrative of literature.  Some obvious texts I'd cite as having such
>>>>> an impact: Baldwin's Beware the Cat and Mirror for Magistrates;
>>>>> Tottel's Miscellany; Edwards's Damon and Pythias; Gascoigne's An
>>>>> Hundreth Sundry Flowers; Spenser's Shepherd's Calendar; Lyly's
>>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>>> Euphues: The Anatomy of Wit.  Here's a thought about these (perhaps
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>>> rather an obvious one): each seems to me as interesting for the way
>>>>> they use a wide range of texts that had an impact on them as for the
>>>>> impact they had on texts that came after.  One can see them as
>>>>> crossroads or junctions for strands of early modern culture that had
>>>>> been separate beforehand, and which combine for a while in their
>>>>> pages and those of their imitators before separating again - or
>>>>> becoming forever fused in some new progeny.
>>>>> 
>>>>> Another thought: each of these single texts represents an amalgam of
>>>>> genres - even Edwards's, which mixes together various theatrical
>>>>> influences in a classical context.  Gascoigne's is undoubtedly the
>>>>> most richly various of all these volumes, but they're all various,
>>>>> and looking at variety IN ITSELF - the interest in variety that
>>>>> steered this particular period - might be as valuable as claiming a
>>>>> pre-eminence of variety for any single author.  What did they think
>>>>> they were doing when parading so many various influences on their
>>>>> thought in a single publication?
>>>>> 
>>>>> These are just a few thoughts on why struggling with influence and
>>>>> impact is worth doing.  There are surely many more.
>>>>> 
>>>>> But I need to close in haste anbd get back to marking!
>>>>> 
>>>>> All best wishes,
>>>>> 
>>>>> Rob
>>>>> 
>>>>> 
>>>>> -----Original Message-----
>>>>> From: Discussion list on George Gascoigne on behalf of Andy Kesson
>>>>> Sent: Sat 1/17/2009 1:51 PM
>>>>> To: [log in to unmask]
>>>>> Subject: Re: Gascoigne the most important writer 1575-79?
>>>>> 
>>>>> I'm afraid I'm just a humble PhD student with Lyly-tinted glasses, but
>>>>> from
>>>>> my perspective Gascoigne, Edwards (and Pettie?) are Lyly's most important
>>>>> immediate predecessors.
>>>>> I'd be interested to know how people are defining or thinking about
>>>>> influence and impact, as these are terms I'm struggling with.  I'm also
>>>>> interested in the idea of 'range' defining authorial impact/ greatness -
>>>>> the
>>>>> same claim is being made for Thomas Middleton by Gary Taylor of course.
>>>>> Working on Lyly, whose work is comparatively limited and redundant in
>>>>> theme, the idea that range defines an author is fascinating.
>>>>> 
>>>>> Andy
>>>>> 
>>>>> 
>>>>> 
>>>>> 2009/1/17 Robert Maslen <[log in to unmask]>
>>>>> 
>>>>>  I think it's a fair claim too, and would go for Mike's dates.  I've
>>>>> 
>>>>>> always
>>>>>> had an admiration for Richard Edwards, and I think he's immensely
>>>>>> influential too - especially in the drama.  John Lyly's Euphues,
>>>>>> published
>>>>>> 1578, is often taken to have had a bigger impact than any other text
>>>>>> before
>>>>>> the Calender, but recent work shows A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres had an
>>>>>> equally important impact.  And neither of those writers has enough work
>>>>>> of
>>>>>> quality (surviving work, in Edwards' case) to challenge Gascoigne.
>>>>>> 
>>>>>> Having said this, reputations are important; and there seems to have
>>>>>> been
>>>>>> something of a conscious effort by the Elizabethans to erase
>>>>>> Gascoigne's
>>>>>> NAME from its pre-eminent place among contemporary writers. Lyly's
>>>>>> Euphues
>>>>>> gets remembered because the word passes into the language.  Damon and
>>>>>> Pythias gets remembered because the hyperbolic claims it made for male
>>>>>> friendship struck a chord in a culture obsessed with the topic.
>>>>>> Gascoigne
>>>>>> didn't succeed in passing on his name or that of any of his fictional
>>>>>> constructs to posterity - despite the fact that he belongs to a
>>>>>> generation
>>>>>> of poets who foreground their names repeatedly in their compositions
>>>>>> (Turberville, Churchyard, Pettie et al.).  I wonder why this is? Or
>>>>>> have we
>>>>>> already satisfactorily answered that question?
>>>>>> 
>>>>>> Views on this, anyone?  Apart from anything else, is it true that
>>>>>> Gascoigne's name sank without trace pretty soon after his death?
>>>>>> 
>>>>>> All the best,
>>>>>> 
>>>>>> Rob
>>>>>> 
>>>>>> 
>>>>>> -----Original Message-----
>>>>>> From: Discussion list on George Gascoigne on behalf of Mike Pincombe
>>>>>> Sent: Fri 1/16/2009 6:09 PM
>>>>>> To: [log in to unmask]
>>>>>> Subject: Re: Gascoigne the most important writer 1575-79?
>>>>>> 
>>>>>> Not controversial -- or shouldn't be at any rate. In my cups (and out
>>>>>> of
>>>>>> them) I have often thought of writing a history of 'English Literature
>>>>>> 
>>>>> 
>>>>>>>  in the Age of Gascoigne: 1560-1575'. -- M
>>>> 
>>>>>> -----Original Message-----
>>>>>> From: Discussion list on George Gascoigne
>>>>>> [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Gillian Austen
>>>>>> Sent: 16 January 2009 18:08
>>>>>> To: [log in to unmask]
>>>>>> Subject: Gascoigne the most important writer 1575-79?
>>>>>> 
>>>>>> I'd love to know what people make of this idea: how convincing is it to
>>>>>> claim Gascoigne as the single most important and influential writer in
>>>>>> England between 1575 and 1579?
>>>>>> 
>>>>>> The claim is based on his record of influential and innovative works in
>>>>>> comedy, tragedy, tragi-comedy, satire, sonnets, poetic theory, prose
>>>>>> fiction and blank verse (and the rest).
>>>>>> 
>>>>>> The dates are chosen because of Gascoigne's successes with the Posies,
>>>>>> Noble Arte of Venerie, and at Kenilworth and Woodstock, in 1575 - and
>>>>>> the end date of 1579 is due to the publication of Spenser's Shepheardes
>>>>>> Calender, which I think marks a turning point and is the first text to
>>>>>> make Gascoigne's work pretty outmoded.
>>>>>> 
>>>>>> The idea came up during the writing of a paper I gave on Tuesday to the
>>>>>> Renaissance and Early Modern Seminar group at the University of
>>>>>> Bristol.
>>>>>> 
>>>>> 
>>>>>> 
>>>>> 
>>>>>> I wanted to give an overview of the range of his work and activities
>>>>>> and
>>>>>> 
>>>>>> ended up making that extraordinary claim!
>>>>>> 
>>>>>> I think the claim might just hold - based on influence - and largely
>>>>>> because I can't think of anyone else who could make it. There are some
>>>>>> fine  translators (Golding, Turberville); and there are some fine poets
>>>>>> represented in Tottel, for example, but none have Gascoigne's range.
>>>>>> Sidney is too late; so is Spenser, since the Calender is his
>>>>>> breakthrough. Churchyard is prolific but doesn't have the range, the
>>>>>> inventiveness or the success.
>>>>>> 
>>>>>> What do you think - am I on to something, or getting carried away?
>>>>>> 
>>>>>> Yr honors to comaunde,
>>>>>> 
>>>>>> Gillian
>>>>>> 
>>>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> --
>>>> Meredith Skura
>>>> Libby Shearn Moody Professor of English
>>>> English Department MS-30
>>>> Rice University
>>>> PO Box 1892
>>>> Houston, TX 77251-1892
>>>> phone: 713-348-2467 / fax: 713-348-5991
>>>> 
>>> 
>>> 
>>> --
>>> Meredith Skura
>>> Libby Shearn Moody Professor of English
>>> English Department MS-30
>>> Rice University
>>> PO Box 1892
>>> Houston, TX 77251-1892
>>> phone: 713-348-2467 / fax: 713-348-5991
>>> 
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> 
>> 
>> No virus found in this incoming message.
>> Checked by AVG - http://www.avg.com
>> Version: 8.0.176 / Virus Database: 270.10.12/1909 - Release Date: 1/22/2009
>> 07:08
>> 

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