Male Pretense: A Gender Study of Sir Philip Sidney's Life and Texts

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The life and works of Sir Philip Sidney, the highly innovative Elizabethan author and statesman, become remarkably relevant to us today when they are viewed, as they are in this book, as explorations of the pleomorphism of gender. Sidney's revealing correspondence with his tutor Hubert Languet displays a friendship that seems to have developed into a homoerotic attachment or Greek love and thereby problematized Sidney's own gender. That personal gender problematic explains, as this book demonstrates, why Sidney's early masque The Lady of May can be read simultaneously as a textualisation of the instability of gender difference and of Sidney's relationship to his Virgin Queen, Elizabeth I. After tracing the same themes through Sidney's Old Arcadia, it focuses on his sonnet sequence Astrophil and Stella. There it returns to his problematic homoerotic attachment to Languet, finding in it a new answer to the age-old riddle of those famous love poems.

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