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Laura: Uncovering Gender and Genre in Wyatt, Donne and Marvell (Post-Contemporary Interventions) Paperback – December 15, 1994

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Laura is an extraordinarily sustained, compelling, and critically resourceful reading of the lyric Petrarch and three of his major English successors. This book counts as a major revision of the critical discourse of ‘Petrarchanism.’ Estrin not only produces this critique, however; she clinches it with readings so concentrated, well-founded, and fully argued that her successors will have to meet a new standard of proof."—Jonathan Crewe, Dartmouth College


"Estrin’s readings are intricate and persuasive, and revealing. Her writing, at once deeply poetic and nuanced, is extremely clear. She argues for a kind of fluidity of the poetic subject that allows for gender crossings and transgressions; the resulting exploration of male subjectivity and feminine representations is immensely suggestive and potentially provocative."—Elizabeth D. Harvey, University of Western Ontario

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"Estrin's readings are intricate and persuasive, and revealing. Her writing, at once deeply poetic and nuanced, is extremely clear. She argues for a kind of fluidity of the poetic subject that allows for gender crossings and transgressions; the resulting exploration of male subjectivity and feminine representations is immensely suggestive and potentially provocative."--Elizabeth D. Harvey, University of Western Ontario
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Product Details

  • Series: Post-Contemporary Interventions
  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books (December 15, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0822314991
  • ISBN-13: 978-0822314998
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,733,277 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By T. Hall on November 6, 2008
Format: Hardcover
First, Donne is only Petrarchan in some ironic, oblique sense. Laura, or any woman resembling Laura, is not to be found in his Songs and Sonnets or his Elegies, not to mention his Divine Poems and Sermons. In fact, the women in Donne's poems are many and varied, and given varied treatments by the poet, some 'objectifying', some not so much. It's clear that Donne learned from Petrarch, of course, but he has done his own 'deconstruction' of it, and turned in the direction of the earth instead of Petrarch's Ovidian allusions and Neoplatonic ascent.

Second, where is Laura in Marvell? Is there some echo of her in his coy mistress? Would she find a place in the garden of the happily solitary poet? Perhaps there's a gender-bending allusion to her in his ode and other poems to Cromwell, but that's a bit of a stretch. In fact, I don't find in Marvell the delight in and antipathy toward all kinds of women that I find in Donne - make of that what you will.

So, that leaves, thirdly, Wyatt, the most immediate successor in English to the Petrarchan tradition. I'm not certain that the lover(s) in his poems are Lauralike, but his tropes are certainly similar to Petrarch's. Indeed, in Wyatt we find the lover in endless pursuit, frustrated by a beloved at once aloof and cruel. Yes, Wyatt is the poet in Estrin's trio hewing most to line she wishes to trace and tangle.

Believe it or not, there is a point to all this. I find Estrin's book flawed from the beginning because two of the three poets she studies refuse the Petrarchan mold she tries to impose upon 'em.
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