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Poetics and Politics of Place in Pastoral

International Perspectives

Edited By Bénédicte Chorier-Fryd, Charles Holdefer and Thomas Pughe

In a time of global environmental crisis, pastoralism may seem beside the point. Yet pastoral ideals are still alive even though they often manifest themselves by ironic indirection. What can the pastoral tradition teach us about our ties to particular places?
The contributors to this volume attempt to lay the groundwork for the ongoing concern with pastoral and with its critical revision.
This volume brings together new essays that focus on painting, photography, poetry, essay, fiction and film, from the Renaissance to the present. They also take into account an astonishing variety of pastoral places, in Europe, Africa, and North America; country and city; suburbia and industrial zones.
Poetics and Politics of Place in Pastoral is not only about reassessing the past, but also provides a sense of future developments as the pastoral reinvents itself for the 21 st century.
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“Take that goodness in hand”: The Representation of Nature and the Power of Beauty in Sir Philip Sidney’s Arcadia


The prominence of characters and their heroic actions in Sir Philip Sidney’s Arcadia tends to overshadow the value of the representation of nature in his pastoral romance. The focus is indeed laid on the main characters: Pyrocles of Macedon and Musidorus of Thessaly – two young princes who walk through Arcadia on their way back to their kingdoms. The ornament which characterises Sidney’s depictions of nature may also seem excessively artificial to a modern reader who might disregard them. Descriptions of nature in the Arcadia do not represent a substantial amount of text especially compared to the bulk which composes the extended intertwined narratives of the revised version. However, a close analysis of nature in Sidney’s text will provide us with an insight into his philosophical influences and his intellectual and artistic commitments.

In his Defence of Poesy – a poetic treatise written in the early 1580s – Sidney argues that “Nature never set forth the earth in so rich tapestry as divers poets have done, neither with so pleasant rivers, fruitful trees, sweet-smelling flowers” (Sidney in Alexander 9). Therefore, in representing nature the Renaissance artist or poet manifests a claim for creativity, which had long been considered as an exclusively divine prerogative. When reading the Arcadia, we should keep in mind that some of the essential passages of the Defence of Poesy revolve around the idea of nature. Indeed, Sidney uses the concept of “second nature” (Alexander 9) which had been coined by the Italian critic Julius Caesar...

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