Collaborative Writing and Lyric Interchange in Philip Sidney's Old Arcadia

Margaret Simon


This essay looks to a scene of collaborative writing between Pamela and Musidorus which has been undervalued. The lovers escape to the woods and declare their love in poetry through a variety of inscriptive and ephemeral modes. The scene ends as she sleeps and he composes a poem and a verse blazon which nearly insights him to rape. While the ethical complexities of the end of the scene have been analyzed, less attention has been given to the collaborative terms with which it begins. The start of the scene presents shifts in the material and social terms of lyric production which resonate with contemporary literary practice. Using variations on public inscription and miscellany compilation, the scene represents the social phenomenology of lyric and its ability to constitute intersubjective agents. In so doing, it assesses not just what subjectivities given genres allow, but how modes of production shape the relationship between genre and subjectivity. The scene's reworking in the printings of the 1590s downplay its intersubjective claims while its representation of collaborative practice bears ironic witness to the reification of single authorship promoted in the printed revisions.


collaborative writing, lyric, miscellany, inscription, romance, genre, intersubjectivity, Philip Sidney, Mary Sidney Herbert

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