Putting the Parenthesis in Sidney’s Arcadia
This chapter examines how the inversions and displacements of hyperbaton shape the large narrative structure of Philip Sidney's Arcadia, with particular emphasis on the use of parenthesis in the prose romance. Anne Bradstreet denounces Arcadia as a “shame,” whose subject must make “Maids” and “Wives” blush, whereas her contemporaries read it as the epitome of English eloquence. Although parenthesis might not register with modern readers as a rhetorical figure of speech, early modern manuals count it among the many subfigures of hyperbaton. This chapter uses the disorderly figure of parenthesis to interpret the form of Arcadia, arguing that the supplemental logic of the figure operates at a level far beyond that of the sentence or line. More specifically, it shows that the plot of the romance itself is structured by a series of parenthetical interruptions and qualifications. It also explains how the figure of the “Insertour” expresses the difficulty of constituting English literary authority in the sixteenth century.
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