Encyclopedia of Renaissance Philosophy

Living Edition
| Editors: Marco Sgarbi

Sidney, Philip

Born: 30 November 1554
Died: 17 October 1586
  • Michael MackEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-02848-4_389-1

Abstract

Sir Philip Sidney helped usher in the great literary flourishing of the late sixteenth century in England. His posthumously published lyric poetry, prose fiction, and literary theory had an immediate impact on his contemporaries, including Edmund Spenser and William Shakespeare, and have exerted a shaping influence on the course of English literature to the present day. In his own lifetime, he was widely admired as the embodiment of the ideals of the era, and upon his death from wounds sustained in battle, his life became legendary. Of his literary works, the Apology for Poetry is the most philosophical – notwithstanding the fact that in the work Sidney explicitly pits poetry against philosophy (as well as history). In the Apology Sidney argues for the ethical and political value of fiction, contending that fiction can bring about self-knowledge that moves readers to repent of their faults and to embrace virtuous action. Sidney draws on a wide array of classical and continental sources, and critics have identified a variety of intellectual currents running through the work. Although critics have argued that one or another programmatic allegiance was decisive for Sidney, no consensus has emerged. What is clear is that Sidney departs from the older conception of poetry as veiled theology to a new understanding of poetry as distinctive and valuable in its own right. Throughout the work Sidney displays such wit and charm that it is difficult to imagine a more winning presentation of his position.

Keywords

Virtuous Action Lyric Poetry Divine Creation Heroic Poetry Divine Idea 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.
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References

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Catholic University of AmericaWashingtonUSA