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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.173) Chapter Five Method
Scenes of Instruction in Renaissance Romance

Jeff Dolven

University of Chicago Press

The newArcadia is in almost every way more extravagant than its predecessor. The old Arcadia is a chamber opera, the action of which is confined to the forest court of Duke Basilius, and the actors double or even triple up their roles: judge and father, prosecutor and counselor, Cleophila and Daiphantus and Pyrocles. The new Arcadia is grand opera by comparison, or better, epic—played out on battlefields and calling for a cast of thousands. This chapter explores the new Arcadia's new commitment to method—method being Sidney's new answer to the problem of how to make a book that teaches. The old Arcadia defied the didactic imperative by dismantling its own authority: it is full of teacherly flourish, and it ultimately refuses to teach. The revision follows a different course. Its most obvious innovation is its turn to epic, and it gains the requisite girth by digesting a mess of new episode and experience, a welter of new knowledge. Out of this new stuff, Sidney builds what amounts to an encyclopedia inside his fiction. The work that results is a strange hybrid of its ancient sources and the most up-to-date learning, a great experiment in how fiction and method might coexist. Most importantly, for Sidney, it is a work that can teach without a teacher.

Keywords:   Philip Sidney, epic, teaching, fiction

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