By Elizabeth Heale (auth.)
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Additional info for Autobiography and Authorship in Renaissance Verse: Chronicles of the Self
There are contradictory signals about who might be the implied addressee(s) of the manuscript. A prefatory poem addressed to ‘yee yowthfull Imps’ at the start of the manuscript claims that in the volume, ‘yoong yowths, are learned lessons large’. This may suggest that Whythorne initially had some thoughts of preparing the manuscript for print, but the intimate and personal nature of much of the narrative makes publication unlikely. Following the prefatory poem, Whythorne 41 42 Autobiography and Authorship in Renaissance Verse opens his narrative with a direct address to ‘My good frend’ and claims the manuscript is a gesture of reciprocity: Recalling to mynd my promyse made vnto yow, I have heer sent yow the copies of such songs and sonetts, as I have made from tyme to tyme vntill the writing heerof.
And the Dame of a curteous enclination deigned (now and then) to requite the same with glancing at him. Hir old lover occupied his eyes with watching: and hir brother perceyving all this could not absteyne from winking, … . But most of all hir husband … was constreyned to play the fifth part in forward frowninge. (pp. 58 From looking, the clandestine lovers progress to riddling, and from there to ‘better acquaintance’. But this lady, like so many of her sisters in these early Elizabethan volumes, is also of Cressid’s kind; one day ‘(groping in hir pocket)’ he discovers a new letter of her old lover’s, and thus he discovers his mistress’s faithlessness and his own betrayal.
As in the Tymetes/Pyndara sequence, Turbervile seems here to develop amorous verse into a fragmentary narrative that betrays anxieties inherent in a persona constructed from writings, especially the writing of amorous trifles. Abroad in a strange and hostile land, his pen and voice become signs of absence, both his own and that of his lover/home. The lover finds himself unanchored, a floating signifier without a presence at home or abroad, betrayed by the familiar, and unheard among the echoing wastes of Russia.
Autobiography and Authorship in Renaissance Verse: Chronicles of the Self by Elizabeth Heale (auth.)