Autobiography and Authorship in Renaissance Verse: by Elizabeth Heale (auth.)

By Elizabeth Heale (auth.)

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Placed alongside two male-voiced poems that, accusation for accusation, and complaint for complaint, match her own, the volume places her verse in the context of social jesting and witty exchange implied by, for example, the Devonshire MS verses. Where Turbervile’s narrative of female faithlessness presented Pyndara’s complaints of male faithlessness as the unreliable words of women, Whitney’s plea that her faithless lover keep her letter ‘in store’ as the last expression of her faithful mind (p.

His second, written in ink and charging Pyndara to avoid the shame of Cressida by remaining faithful to him, produces, rather than assuages, distrust. Each lover doubts the other’s writing; ‘For some doe weepe that feele no wo’, Pyndara tells her lover: The more you seeme to me in wofull wise to playne, The sooner I perswade my selfe that you do nought but fayne. (p. 92) Turbervile uses a woman’s voice to throw doubt on the stability of male promises and male writing. Pyndara reverses the standard masculine exploitation of Cressida as a figure of faithlessness and female corruptibility, using her deception by Diomedes to accuse men of telling ‘To sundrie women sundrie tales’: Was neuer woman false, but man as false as shee And commonly the men doe make that women slipper bee.

In a couple of poems Pyndara’s voice is heard giving a female point of view. In the first of her verse letters to Tymetes, she cites the examples of Aeneas, Jason and Miscellanies and the well-formed gentleman 31 Theseus to illustrate her assertion that ‘we Women are | more trustie than you men’: They brake their vowed hestes, by ship away they went: And so betrayde those siely soules that craft nor falsehood ment. (p. 71) Tymetes also departed by ship. His absence produces doubt and misunderstanding foregrounding the instability of writing, its lack of a seemingly authenticating voice and presence.

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