Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
What Else Is Pastoral?Renaissance Literature and the Environment$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Ken Hiltner

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780801449406

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801449406.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM Cornell University Press SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.cornell.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Cornell University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in Cornell for personal use (for details see www.cornell.universitypressscholarship.com/page/privacy-policy/privacy-policy-and-legal-notice).date: 20 October 2018

The Nature of Art

The Nature of Art

(p.19) 1 The Nature of Art
What Else Is Pastoral?

Ken Hiltner

Cornell University Press

This chapter makes the case for a green reading of Renaissance pastoral by drawing upon the ancient debate over nature and its representation recorded in Plato's Cratylus. It considers Plato's doubts over whether we could ever be truly successful in our efforts to represent, by way of language, the physical environment revealed through sensory experience. It argues that when faced with a similar question, some Renaissance poets and artists, including those that produced pastoral works, sidestep this issue by largely avoiding mimesis and representation. When confronted with an environment wildly in flux, these artists sometimes turn away from representation and its challenges, choosing instead to gesture to what lies outside of the work. Consequently, Renaissance nature writing, which is frequently in the pastoral mode, often works best when it neither mimics nor represents anything. The deployment of such a gestural strategy helps explain the general lack of lavish description in Renaissance pastoral. Recalling Plato's anxiety over the challenges that come with the representation of nature, which was still very much alive in the Renaissance, it should come as little surprise that early modern poets often avoid lavish descriptions of the environment. What should come as a surprise, however, is that literary theorists have often ignored the simple fact that nature writing, as well as works of art more generally, can function gesturally without significantly deploying mimesis.

Keywords:   nature, Plato, Cratylus, Renaissance pastoral, nature writing, Renaissance poets, Renaisscance artists

Cornell Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.