The Art of English Poesy

The Art of English Poesy: A Critical Edition

George Puttenham
Frank Whigham
Wayne A. Rebhorn
Copyright Date: 2007
Edition: 1
Published by: Cornell University Press
Pages: 512
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  • Book Info
    The Art of English Poesy
    Book Description:

    George Puttenham's Art of English Poesy is a foundational work of English Renaissance criticism and literary theory. Rich in detail about the nature, purpose, and functions of poetry as well as the poet's character and goals, it is also a valuable historical document, offering generous insight into Elizabethan court culture, implicitly on display in the attitudes and values of the writer. His illustrative anecdotes enable us to watch European courtiers negotiating their social and political relationships with one another as well as with rulers and social inferiors.

    This new critical edition of The Art of English Poesy contains the first modernized and fully annotated edition of Puttenham's 1589 text; a substantial introductory essay by Frank Whigham and Wayne A. Rebhorn; a comprehensive bibliography; several glossaries and appendixes; and an index. The editors' masterly essay introduces Puttenham to modern readers and situates The Art of English Poesy in the context of the rhetorical theory, poetics, and courtly conduct of its time. The introduction also includes a concise biography of Puttenham based on a variety of new and unfamiliar data: he married an older and much richer woman whom he badly mistreated; indulged habitually in a life of sexual predation; was repeatedly sued, arrested, and imprisoned; survived several supposed attempts on his life; and died, nearly indigent, in 1591. For scholars and students of the English Renaissance, the Cornell edition of The Art of English Poesy should prove the definitive edition of Puttenham's major work.

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-6198-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-72)

    When George Puttenham reviews his accomplishment at the end of The Art of English Poesy, he does so with characteristic density. By referring to ʺthe poetical ornament consisting chiefly in the beauty and gallantness of his language and styleʺ (conflating the poet and his art), Puttenham enables the promotion to courtly status of both ambitious man and aesthetic practice. He then voices the core fantasy of the book, of having

    appareled him [both art and courtier] to our seeming in all his gorgeous habiliments, and pulling him first from the cart to the school, and from thence to the court,...

  6. Bibliography
    (pp. 73-88)
  7. THE FIRST BOOK Of Poets and Poesy
    (pp. 93-152)

    A poet is as much to say as° a maker. And our English name well conforms with the Greek word, for of $ {\pi o \iota \varepsilon \hat \iota \nu} $ , to make, they call a maker poeta.¹ Such as (by way of resemblance and reverently) we may say of God, who without any travail° to his divine imagination made all the world of nought, nor also by any pattern or mold as the Platonics with their Ideas do fantastically° suppose.² Even so the very poet makes and contrives out of his own brain both the verse and matter of his poem, and not by any foreign...

  8. THE SECOND BOOK Of Proportion° Poetical
    (pp. 153-220)

    It is said by such as profess the mathematical sciences° that all things stand by proportion,° and that without it nothing could stand to be good or beautiful.¹ The doctors° of our theology to the same effect, but in other terms, say that God made the world by number, measure, and weight.² Some for weight say tune,°³ and peradventure° better, for weight is a kind of measure° or of much conveniency° with it, and therefore in their descriptions be always coupled together statica et metrica,⁴ weight and measures.⁵ Hereupon it seemeth the Philosopher gathers a triple proportion,° to wit: the...

  9. THE THIRD BOOK Of Ornament
    (pp. 221-388)

    As no doubt the good proportion° of anything doth greatly adorn and commend² it, and right so our late-remembered proportions° do to our vulgar° poesy, so is there yet requisite to the perfection° of this art another manner of exornation, which resteth in the fashioning of our makerʹs language and style to such purpose as it may delight and allure as well the mind as the ear of the hearers with a certain novelty and strange° manner of conveyance,° disguising it no little from the ordinary and accustomed, nevertheless making it nothing the more unseemly or misbecoming,³ but rather decenter°...

  10. A Table of the Chapters in This Book and Everything in Them Contained
    (pp. 389-394)
  11. The uncorrected state of 1589 p. 207, sig. Ee2r (see 3.20.333–34)
    (pp. 395-396)
  12. Emendations
    (pp. 397-400)
  13. Longer Notes
    (pp. 401-420)
  14. Name Glossary
    (pp. 421-442)
  15. Word Glossary
    (pp. 443-448)
  16. Index to First Lines of Illustrative Quotations
    (pp. 449-454)
  17. General Index
    (pp. 455-498)