Catullan Consciousness and the Early Modern Lyric in England: From Wyatt to Donne
By comparing Catullus to English lyricists of the 16th and early 17th centuries, Jacob Blevins here identifies a common function of the genre: lyric love poetry, he argues, provides the space in which speakers attempt to situate their self-identity among dominate cultural ideologies and individual desires. The intratextual nature of the lyric sequence allows for the constant positioning and repositioning of the lyric subject who must both valorize and reject the cultural ideals on which his relationship and desires should be founded; the poetry represents a process of constructing a self within two conflicting needs. Blevins argues that only in the subjectivity inherent in the lyric genre is this process possible, and that this process is the defining element in successful lyric poetry, whether that of Catullus or of the Renaissance poets Sir Thomas Wyatt, William Shakespeare, Edmund Spenser, Sir Philip Sidney, and John Donne.
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