Sir Philip Sidney

Sir Philip Sidney died in 1586, just before Shakespeare had begun to make his mark on the Elizabethan stage.

His important critical work*, An Apology for Poetry (also published as A Defense of Poetry) was written in 1579, just before the arrival of a group of well-educated young men (the "university wits") including Lyly, Marlowe, and Greene had brought a new vitality and variety to English drama. Sidney's remarks are typical of the educated opinion of the time, and of the succeeding two centuries.

Sidney was also well known for his sonnets and his prose romance Arcadia..

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Sidney should not be judged too harshly for his rude remarks about English drama; the kind of play he would have seen, and was therefore criticising, would have been like Cambyses. In many of these early plays the language was unintentionally comic in its bathos, in a way very like Shakespeare's deliberate and satirical use of inept language in the play within the play of A Midsummer Night's Dream, where he is making fun of earlier drama.

Some passages from Sidney's Defense of Poetry.

Sidney's Defence of Poesie at the Renascence Editions site.

Footnotes

  1. Sidney's poetry and prose

    Sidney was also well known for his sonnets and his prose romance Arcadia..