Love and its Critics: From the Song of Songs to Shakespeare and Milton’s Eden

Love and its Critics: From the Song of Songs to Shakespeare and Milton’s Eden Michael Bryson and Arpi Movsesian
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-78374-348-3 C$58.14
Hardback ISBN: 978-1-78374-349-0 C$83.10
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This book is a history of love and the challenge love offers to the laws and customs of its times and places, as told through poetry from the Song of Songs to John Milton’s Paradise Lost. It is also an account of the critical reception afforded to such literature, and the ways in which criticism has attempted to stifle this challenge.
Bryson and Movsesian argue that the poetry they explore celebrates and reinvents the love the troubadour poets of the eleventh and twelfth centuries called fin’amor: love as an end in itself, mutual and freely chosen even in the face of social, religious, or political retribution. Neither eros nor agape, neither exclusively of the body, nor solely of the spirit, this love is a middle path. Alongside this tradition has grown a critical movement that employs a 'hermeneutics of suspicion', in Paul Ricoeur’s phrase, to claim that passionate love poetry is not what it seems, and should be properly understood as worship of God, subordination to Empire, or an entanglement with the structures of language itself – in short, the very things it resists.
The book engages with some of the seminal literature of the Western canon, including the Bible, the poetry of Ovid, and works by English authors such as William Shakespeare and John Donne, and with criticism that stretches from the earliest readings of the Song of Songs to contemporary academic literature. Lively and enjoyable in its style, it attempts to restore a sense of pleasure to the reading of poetry, and to puncture critical insistence that literature must be outwitted.
It will be of value to professional, graduate, and advanced undergraduate scholars of literature, and to the educated general reader interested in treatments of love in poetry throughout history.

California State University Northridge has provided support for the publication of this volume.


Love and its Critics: From the Song of Songs to Shakespeare and Milton’s Eden
Michael Bryson and Arpi Movsesian | July 2017
576 | 16 colour illustrations | 6.14" x 9.21" (234 x 156 mm)
ISBN Paperback: 9781783743483
ISBN Hardback: 9781783743490
ISBN Digital (PDF): 9781783743506
ISBN Digital ebook (epub): 9781783743513
ISBN Digital ebook (mobi): 9781783743520
DOI: 10.11647/OBP.0117
BIC and BISAC categories: DSGS (Shakespeare Studies and Criticism), DSC (Literary Studies: Poetry and Poets), DSA (Literary Theory), DSBB (Literary Studies: Classical, Early and Medieval), DSBD (Literary Studies: c.1500 to c.1800); LIT004190 (Literary Criticism / Ancient & Classical), LIT020000 (Literary Criticism / Comparative Literature), LIT011000 (Literary Criticism / Medieval), LIT014000 (Literary Criticism / Poetry), LIT019000 (Literary Criticism / Renaissance)


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Acknowledgements
A Note on Sources and Languages

1. Love and Authority: Love Poetry and its Critics
     I. The Poetry of Love
     II. Love’s Nemesis: Demands for Obedience
     III. Love’s Critics: The Hermeneutics of Suspicion and the Authoritarian Approach to Criticism
     IV. The Critics: Poetry Is About Poetry
     V. The Critics: The Author Is Dead (or Merely Irrelevant)

2. Channeled, Reformulated, and Controlled: Love Poetry from the Song of Songs to Aeneas and Dido
     I. Love Poetry and the Critics who Allegorize: The Song of Songs
     II. Love Poetry and the Critics who Reduce: Ovid’s Amores and Ars Amatoria
     III. Love or Obedience in Virgil: Aeneas and Dido
     IV. Love or Obedience in Ovid: Aeneas, Dido, and the Critics who Dismiss

3. Love and its Absences in Late Latin and Greek Poetry
     I. Love in the Poetry of Late Antiquity: Latin
     II. Love in the Poetry of Late Antiquity: Greek

4. The Troubadours and Fin’amor: Love, Choice, and the Individual
     I. Why "Courtly Love” Is Not Love
     II. The Troubadours and Their Critics
     III. The Troubadours and Love

5. Fin’amor Castrated: Abelard, Heloise, and the Critics who Deny

6. The Albigensian Crusade and the Death of Fin’amor in Medieval French and English Poetry
     I. The Death of Fin’amor: The Albigensian Crusade and its Aftermath
     II. Post-Fin’amor French Poetry: The Roman de la Rose
     III. Post-Fin’amor English Romance: Love of God and Country in Havelok the Dane and King Horn
     IV. Post-Fin’amor English Poetry: Mocking "Courtly Love” in Chaucer—the Knight and the Miller
     V. Post-Fin’amor English Poetry: Mocking "Auctoritee” in Chaucer—the Wife of Bath

7. The Ladder of Love in Italian Poetry and Prose, and the Reactions of the Sixteenth-Century Sonneteers
     I. The Platonic Ladder of Love
     II. Post-Fin’amor Italian Poetry: The Sicilian School to Dante and Petrarch
     III. Post-Fin’amor Italian Prose: Il Libro del Cortegiano (The Book of the Courtier)
     IV. The Sixteenth-Century: Post-Fin’amor Transitions in Petrarchan-Influenced Poetry

8. Shakespeare: The Return of Fin’amor
     I. The Value of the Individual in the Sonnets
     II. Shakespeare’s Plays: Children as Property
     III. Love as Resistance: Silvia and Hermia
     IV. Love as Resistance: Juliet and the Critics who Disdain

9. Love and its Costs in Seventeenth-Century Literature
     I. Carpe Diem in Life and Marriage: John Donne and the Critics who Distance
     II. The Lyricist of Carpe Diem: Robert Herrick and the Critics who Distort

10. Paradise Lost: Love in Eden, and the Critics who Obey

Epilogue. Belonging to Poetry: A Reparative Reading
Bibliography
Index


Michael Bryson
received his PhD in 2001 from Northwestern University, and is the author of several articles on the Bible and Renaissance literature, and two books on the poetry, prose, and politics of John Milton. He is Professor of English at California State University.
Arpi Movsesian is working on a PhD in Medieval, Renaissance, and Comparative literature in English, Russian, and Armenian at the University of California, Santa Barbara.