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"Of the Importance of Imitation: Du Bellay, Shakespeare, and the English Sonneteers"

Abstract : Since the groundbreaking work of Anne Lake Prescott, critics have become aware of the importance of Pléiade poets and of translation and imitation for the reception of Petrarchism in England. They now fully recognize the centrality of French poetry to the European, transnational context in which England’s literary idiom was fashioned. The most recent scholarly editions of Shakespeare’s sonnets thus include surprisingly few references to other poets, and merely to point to loose thematic similarities, as if Shakespeare’s debt to tradition was either untraceable, or limited to his contribution to the sonnet sequence as a genre. This essay argues that we need to move away from the myopic quest for sources to better perceive differing modalities of imitation in a transnational context. Shakespeare grew as an author in a multilingual, multicultural context, within a European community of readers and authors. Shakespeare’s singularity as a poet lies not in an alleged ignorance of tradition, but in his particular rapport with imitation, suggesting by the same token a deeper affinity between Shakespeare and French Du Bellay in their irreverent, ironic approach to the Petrarchan sonnet sequence and their participation in a larger European trend of anti-Petrarchism.
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Line Cottegnies. "Of the Importance of Imitation: Du Bellay, Shakespeare, and the English Sonneteers". Shakespeare Studies -Columbia then Albuquerque-, Associated University Presses, In press, XLVIII, pp.41-47. ⟨halshs-02523550⟩

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