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Scenes of Instruction in Renaissance Romance$
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Jeff Dolven

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780226155364

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: February 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226155371.001.0001

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(p.99) Chapter Three Maxim
Scenes of Instruction in Renaissance Romance

Jeff Dolven

University of Chicago Press

This chapter focuses on Philip Sidney's Arcadia, outlining the book's larger struggle with its own didacticism by attending to a particular trope: the preeminent feature of Arcadia's style, the sententia, or moral maxim. It considers what happens when school sententiae become the very texture of a romance, the signal feature of its dialect. C. S. Lewis wrote fifty years ago that “maxims of law, government, morals, or psychology … are scattered on nearly every page” of Arcadia, and his “nearly” represents something of an undercount. They are everywhere, and they are a key both to Sidney's bearing toward the culture of teaching in which he was raised, and to the antididactic project of this first draft of his pastoral romance.

Keywords:   Philip Sidney, didacticism, sententia, moral maxim, teaching, romance

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