By Catherine Nicholson
In the past due 16th century, as England started to assert its integrity as a state and English its advantage as a literate tongue, vernacular writing took a flip for the eccentric. Authors corresponding to John Lyly, Edmund Spenser, and Christopher Marlowe loudly introduced their objectives for the mummy tongue—but the extremity in their stylistic strategies yielded texts that appeared infrequently English in any respect. Critics likened Lyly's hyperembellished prose to a bejeweled "Indian," complained that Spenser had "writ no language," and mocked Marlowe's clean verse as a "Turkish" concoction of "big-sounding sentences" and "termes Italianate." In its such a lot subtle literary guises, the much-vaunted universal tongue all at once seemed particularly foreign.
In Uncommon Tongues, Catherine Nicholson locates strangeness on the paradoxical center of sixteenth-century vernacular tradition. Torn among rival conceptions of eloquence, savvy writers and academics worked to reconcile their country's desire for a constant, obtainable mom tongue with the expectancy that poetic language leave from daily speech. That fight, waged by way of pedagogical theorists and rhetoricians in addition to authors we now realize as one of the most complete and critical in English literary heritage, produced works that made the vernacular's oddities, constraints, and defects synonymous with its virtues. Such willful eccentricity, Nicholson argues, got here to be obvious as either the essence and antithesis of English eloquence.
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Uncommon Tongues: Eloquence and Eccentricity in the English Renaissance by Catherine Nicholson