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The Courtier. ENGL 514 Dr. Fike. Sprezzatura. Page 116: “Recklessness” is a poor translation. See page 233 for a good definition: “‘courtly grace which conceals a sober purpose and is, indeed, the mark of consummate artistry.’” Cf. Sidney’s Apology . Our Plan.

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The Courtier

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The courtier

The Courtier

ENGL 514

Dr. Fike


Sprezzatura

Sprezzatura

  • Page 116: “Recklessness” is a poor translation. See page 233 for a good definition: “‘courtly grace which conceals a sober purpose and is, indeed, the mark of consummate artistry.’”

  • Cf. Sidney’s Apology.


Our plan

Our Plan

  • Consider the text as being like a bike wheel: it is an interesting hub in itself and puts out spokes in various directions that will help us 1) understand the text and 2) make connections to texts that we have previously studied (and will study).


Plato s ladder of love symposium

Plato’s Ladder of Love (Symposium)

  • (Neo-Platonism: Love of God)

  • Love of the Form of Beauty [Courtier 126: “beauty is bodiless”]

  • Love of the Beauty of philosophy

  • Love of the Beauty of knowledge

  • Love of the Beauty of laws and institutions

  • Love of the Beauty of the soul (even in an unlovely body)

  • Love of the Beauty of all bodies

  • Love of the Beauty of an individual body


Lol is what bembo is talking about

LOL Is What Bembo Is Talking About

  • Page 121: “the lowermost step of the stairs, by which a man may ascend to true love”

  • Page 129: “a stair, as it were, to climb up to another far higher than it”


Notes on the lol

Notes on the LOL

  • When you move up the latter, you move toward virtue and away from physicality.

  • This movement is like getting out of Plato’s famous cave.

    • Pages 130-31: “shadows of beauty” and “the shadow of sensual beauty”


The nature of man hamlet 2 2 294 311

The nature of man: Hamlet 2.2.294-311

  • “What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and admirable, in action how like a angel, in apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the world, the paragon of animals!”

  • Three types of souls on page 131: vegetable, sensible, rational.

    What does Hamlet tell us about the human condition? Do you see a parallel in The Courtier? See page 119, line 5.


More hamlet 1 2 150 51

More: Hamlet 1.2.150-51

“O God, a beast that wants discourse of reason,

Would have mourned longer. . . .”

Note the similar language in The Courtier: page 120, lines 31-32; and page 130, line 32.

What seems to be the point that is being made about the human condition?


Shakespeare and the lol

Shakespeare and the LOL

  • Sonnet 129:Lust is “Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust, / Enjoyed no sooner but despisèd straight, / Past reason hunted, and no sooner had / Past reason hated, as a swallowed bait / On purpose laid to make the taker mad; / Mad in pursuit, and in possession so; / Had, having, and in quest to have, extreme,” etc.

  • Sonnet 147: “My love is as a fever . . . My reason, the physician to my love . . . Hath left me . . . Desire is death . . . Past cure I am, now reason is past care.”

  • The Courtier, page 125, line 14: “it is unpossible for love to stand with reason.”

  • Shakespeare, MSND 3.1.138-39: Bottom says that “reason and love keep little company together nowadays.”

    What is the complicating factor in the human condition? Do you see a parallel in The Courtier on page 120, lines 5 and 15ff.?


Msnd and the courtier

MSND and The Courtier

  • The Courtier, page 124: “so the sight is deceived and judgeth a face beautiful which indeed is not beautiful. And because in the eyes and in the whole countenance of some woman a man beholdethotherwile a certain lavish wantonness painted, with dishonest flickerings. . . Call it beauty; but indeed it is a cloaked unshamefastness [immodesty], unworthy of so honorable and holy a name.”

  • The parallel in FQ is__________. See top of page 125.


Political analogy shakespeare troilus and cressida 1 3 75ff

Political Analogy:Shakespeare, Troilus and Cressida 1.3.75ff.

  • “The heavens themselves, the planets, and this center / Observe degree, priority, and place, / Insisture [steady continuance on a path], course, proportion, season, form, / Office, and custom, in all line of order.”

  • “O, when degree is shaked, / Which is the ladder of all high designs, / The enterprise is sick. . . . Take but degree away, untune that string, / And hark what discord follows.”

    In The Courtier, what corresponding point do you find on page 123, esp. in lines 10-25. Note the key word: “order.”


The psyche

The Psyche

  • Ulysses, of course, is talking about politics and the state, but the psyche must also be properly ruled:

    • Reason

    • Will

    • Passion

  • Page 123, line 24: microcosm: “man, which may be called a little world.”


Lowest rung

Lowest Rung

  • The Courtier, pages 119-20: How does Bembo describe sensual love here?

    • Turmoil

    • Eros/lust

    • Projection

    • Cathexis

    • Abandonment

    • Sex addiction

    • Okay for a young man but not for an older man


Spenser s fq

Spenser’s FQ

  • How does Redcrosse illustrate this stage? See especially The Courtier, page 132.

    • I.i.10-11: “But wander too and fro in wayesunknowne”; “That path they take, that beaten seemd most bare, / And like to lead the labyrinth about” (emphases added).

  • How about Guyon as a counterpoint? See “temperance” in The Courtier, page 126, line 27.


Need to move up on the lol

Need To Move up on the LOL

  • Middle rung: Love of the soul—sight and hearing are active (page 126), but reason dominates. Reason > the senses. Virtue is one of the byproducts. Kissing is a way of becoming united in soul and body with a woman (page 127).


Kissing

Kissing

  • V&A, stanza 90: “Her arms do lend his neck a sweet embrace; / Incorporate then they seem; face grows to face,” etc. “Incorporate” = united into one body.

  • DF, scene 12, line 83-84: “Sweet Helen, make me immortal with a kiss: / Her lips sucks forth my soul, see where it flies!”

  • Amoretti, Sonnet 64: “Comming to kisse her lyps, (such grace I found) / Me seemd I smelt a gardin of sweet flowres,” etc.

  • Are Shakespeare, Marlowe, and Spenser talking about the same thing that Bembo has in mind?


Bembo on beauty the courtier page 122

Bembo on Beauty: The Courtier, page 122

  • “[B]eauty is always good.” Goodness is the center. Beauty is the circle around it. (One suspects here that goodness = God.)

    • 119: senses

    • 122 and 131: circle

    • 122: colocagathia or kalokagathia


Spenser fq i viii 46 48

Spenser, FQ I.viii.46-48

  • Duessa is described: “That her misshapéd parts did them appall, / A loathly, wrinckled hag, ill favoured, old, / Whose secret filth good manners biddeth not be told.”

  • She is bald, filthy. Her gums are rotting. She smells. Her skin is wrinkled and scabby. She has a fox’s tail. Etc.

  • The Courtier, page 123: “The foul, therefore, for the most part be also evil, and the beautiful good.”


Sonnets we have read

Sonnets We Have Read

  • Spenser, Amoretti 79, re. the “vertuous mind”: “That is true beautie: that doth argue you / To be divine and borne of heavenly seed: / Derived from that fayre Spirit, from whom al true / And perfect beauty did at first proceed.”

  • Sidney, Astrophel and Stella, no. 5:

    True, that true beautie virtue is indeed,Whereof this beautie can be but a shade,Which, elements with mortal mixture breed.True, that on earth we are but pilgrims made,And should in soule up to our countrey moue:True, and yet true that I must Stellaloue.

    Where would you place this statement on the LOL?


Highest rung on the lol

Highest Rung on the LOL

  • Understanding enables access to heavenly beauty.

  • Page 132: “the beginning and end of all goodness.”

  • Beauty = goodness.

  • Being less rigorous of body and more refined of spirit (because reason restrains sense, as on 120), old men can love “without slander” and “more happily than young men” (118).

  • Heavenly love is described on 131 as “this most holy fire in souls.”


Imagination helps us up the ladder

Imagination Helps Us up the Ladder

  • See pages 128-29: Imagination helps us climb the stairs toward “universal beauty.” It helps the courtier to recapture the beloved’s image and enjoy it despite her physical absence. But on 129 it allows one to “fashion within himself that beauty much more fair than it is indeed.”

  • Theseus in Shakespeare’s MSND5.1.12-17:

    The lover, all as frantic,

    Sees Helen’s beauty in a brow of Egypt.

    ………………………………………………………..

    The poet’s eye, in a fine frenzy rolling,

    Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven;

    And as imagination bodies forth

    The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen

    Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing

    A local habitation and a name.

  • Are Shakespeare and Bembo talking about the same thing?


An even higher type of experience

An Even Higher Type of Experience

  • The Courtier, page 133: Saint Paul. See lines 21 and 31.

    • 1 Cor. 2.9: “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, / nor the heart of man conceived, / what God has prepared for those who love him.”

    • 1 Cor. 15.40, 44: “There are celestial bodies and there are terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. . . . It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body.”

    • 2 Cor. 12.2: “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows—and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter.”

    • Shakespeare, MSND 4.1.209-12: “The eye of man hath not heard, the ear of man hath not seen, man’s hand is not able to taste, his tongue to conceive, nor his heart to report, what my dream was.”


Chart see pages 118 19

Chart (see pages 118-19)


Spenser s an hymne in honovr of beavtie gh page 351ff

Spenser’s “An Hymne in Honovr of Beavtie” (GH, page 351ff.)

  • The poem begins with mention of “thy raging fyre” for “Mother deare,” Beauty, who is addressed. See The Courtier, page 132: “heavenly beauty” and “the holy fury of love.” Cf. Sidney 308: “a divine fury.” Also, Spenser SC, “October,” headnote (page 524): “Enthousiasmos.”

  • “[E]uery earthy thing partakes” in “perfect Beautie.”

  • Earthly beauty, however, “shall quickly fade / And passe away.”

  • “That Beautie is not, as fond men misdeeme, / An outward shew of things, that onelyseeme.”

  • “But that faire lampe, from whose celestiall ray / That light proceedes, which kindlethlouers fire, / Shall neuer be extinguisht nor decay.” 


More of spenser s hymne

More of Spenser’s “Hymne”

Thereof it comes, that these faire soules, which haue

The most resemblance of that heauenly light,

Frame to themselues most beautiful and braue

Their fleshly bowre, most fit for their delight,

And the grosse matter by a soueraine might

Tempers so trim, that it may well be seene,

A pallace fit for such a virgin Queene. END


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