Skura 2008

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Skura, Meredith Anne. Tudor Autobiography: Listening for Inwardness. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008.

A Garden of One's Own: Isabella Whitney's Revision of [Hugh] Plat's Floures of Philosophie (1572) in Her Sweet Nosgay (1573)

Whitney, "What makes her especially interesting is that she reused commonplaces and conventions drawn from her reading to convey specific personal details in her own texts."

"Plat's flowers look entirely different in the autobiographical context Whitney constructs for them. Despite superficial similarities, Whitney's book is more original in ways that show why Plat's first-person verse, though a fine instance of the miscellany genre, has little to do with the development of autobiography, while Whitney's, along with Whythorne's and Gascoigne's, illustrates its move toward representing concrete individual experience." (153)

Plat's collection is more disparate in themes; Whitney only chooses 1/8 of his epigrams, and "emphasizes epigrams about friendship's cure for fortune's disappointments" (154)

"Whitney frames her epigrams with an explanation of how and why she came to publish them. Her letter to the reader and the epigrams that follow it function more like a dream vision than like prefatory material for a miscellany." (154)
"Besides moving Plat's prefatory letter toward personal narrative, Whitney refashions Plat's conventional language into specific description by literalizing his figurative language. She follows his lead in offering a conventional floral nosegay against infection, but in doing so she literalizes his imagery to startlin effect." (156)
"although Whitney does not reach as far for cosmic themes, she does revitalize Plat's abstract figures of posies and moral 'infection' by drafting them to describe her own concrete 'loathsome lanes' and literally 'infected air.' ... the interpretive drift, as new audiences (like Whitney) gained access to books like Plat's miscellany, opened new possibilities for autobiography as well as traditional literary forms." (157)

second half, full of poetry, possibly designed as a different work from the first half

switch from epigram to letters, then letters to popular "will" format (161)

"Nosgay suggests that despite those who find hardly any autobiographies in the sixteenth century, by the 1570s even ordinary people had a variety of easily available examples to guide them in writing autobiographically. And a savvy printer like Richard Jones thought that readers would be willing to pay for them." (167)