By Catherine Nicholson
In the overdue 16th century, as England started to assert its integrity as a kingdom and English its advantage as a literate tongue, vernacular writing took a flip for the eccentric. Authors equivalent to John Lyly, Edmund Spenser, and Christopher Marlowe loudly introduced their goals for the mummy tongue—but the extremity in their stylistic techniques yielded texts that appeared not often 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 refined literary guises, the much-vaunted universal tongue unexpectedly seemed rather foreign.
In Uncommon Tongues, Catherine Nicholson locates strangeness on the paradoxical middle of sixteenth-century vernacular tradition. Torn among rival conceptions of eloquence, savvy writers and academics worked to reconcile their country's want 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 entire and critical in English literary historical past, produced works that made the vernacular's oddities, constraints, and defects synonymous with its virtues. Such willful eccentricity, Nicholson argues, got here to be visible 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