Constituting Old Age in Early Modern English Literature, by By (author) Christopher Martin

By By (author) Christopher Martin

How did Shakespeare and his contemporaries, whose works mark the final region century of Elizabeth I's reign as one of many richest moments in all of English literature, regard and characterize previous age? was once overdue existence visible essentially as a time of withdrawal and coaching for loss of life, as students and historians have commonly maintained? during this ebook, Christopher Martin examines how, opposite to acquired impressions, writers and thinkers of the era―working within the shadow of the kinetic, long-lived queen herself―contested such prejudicial and dismissive social attitudes.

In past due Tudor England, Martin argues, competing definitions of and regard for outdated age demonstrated a deeply conflicted frontier among exterior, socially "constituted" ideals and a constructing feel of an individual's "constitution" or actual make-up, a utilization that entered the language within the mid-1500s. This area was once additional complex by means of inner divisions in the opposing camps. On one facet, reverence for the elder's authority, rooted in non secular and social conference, was once repeatedly challenged through the discontents of an formidable more youthful underclass. concurrently, the getting older topic grounded an everlasting social presence and dignity on a physically integrity that point unavoidably threatened. In a historic environment that observed either the prolonged reign of an getting older monarch and a ensuing weather of acute generational strife, this community of pageant and lodging uniquely formed overdue Elizabethan literary mind's eye. via clean readings of signature works, genres, and figures, Martin redirects severe realization to this overlooked element of early smooth reports.

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Extra resources for Constituting Old Age in Early Modern English Literature, from Queen Elizabeth to King Lear

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Cato’s celebration of Appius’s paradigm is telling. While Cicero’s protagonist predicates a dignified old age upon a well-spent youth, the process is an ongoing one that (if anything) intensifies once one has reached senectus. 37)—discloses Cato’s tacit conviction of the increased vulnerability one experiences in advanced age. In contrast to his loftier assurances that society will respect a worthy elder, an awareness of a far more predatory reality undergirds his pragmatic self-image. Early on, he had invoked the traditional metaphor of the ship of state, wherein the elder acts as a pilot: though he sits stationary as the junior members of the crew move frenetically about the craft, his role remains of far greater significance to the well-being of all.

The constitution of my minde’s vessel is not so evil framed, as whereupon grevous diseases or perilous maladise have taken holde. ”16 However secure Elizabeth’s conviction regarding her God-given constitution, and however much her privileged status as an unmarried queen distinguished her, women of all classes at the time experienced if anything a compounded version of the conflicted attitudes toward old age characterized in my opening chapter. ”18 Even though single women of the day, free from the substantial physical hazards of parturition and often from the dependencies and demands of earlier life stages, were, as Amy M.

14 Chapter One temperature and constitution of the bodie: for every man that is cold and drie, is he whom I may call old. There are very many which become old men at fortie, and again there are an infinit sort, which are young men at sixtie: there are some constitutions that grow old very speedily, and others very slowly. 50 Privileging the subjective over the strictly objective, the advisory blurs (if it does not erase) the perimeters initially set in place by the physician. Laurentius’s waffling, like Fortescue’s and Joubert’s, divulges a troubled awareness of old age as an evaluative as much as a descriptive concept.

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