England, Neo-Latin, and the Continental Journey: Linguistic and Textual Itineraries

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This chapter examines the ramifications of continental travel and associated epistolary communication for English poets of the period. It argues that recourse to neo-Latin, the universal language of diplomacy, served not only to establish a sense of shared space—linguistic, cultural, generic—between England and the continent, but also to signal self-conscious differences (climatic, geographical, historical, political) between England and her continental peers. Through an investigation of a range of ‘performances’ on stages that were ‘academic’, poetic, autobiographical, and epistolographic, it assesses the central role of neo-Latin as a language that underwent a series of textual itineraries. These ‘itineraries’ manifest themselves in a number of ways. Neo-Latin as a shared linguistic medium can facilitate, and quite uniquely so, intertextual engagement with the classics, but now ancient Rome, its language, its mythology, its hierarchy of genres, are viewed through a seventeenth-century lens and appropriated by poets in both England and Italy to describe contemporary events, whether personal, or political. Close examination of the neo-Latin poetry of Milton and Marvell reveals, it is argued, a self-fashioning coloured by such textual itineraries and interchanges. The absorption and replication of continental literary and linguistic methodologies (the academic debate; the etymological play of Marinism; the hybridity of neo-Latin and Italian voices) reveal in short a linguistic and textual reciprocity that gave birth to something very new.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPolitical Turmoil: Early Modern British Literature in Transition, 1623-1660
EditorsStephen Dobranski
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Press
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019


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