The Song of Songs in English Renaissance Literature: Kisses of Their Mouths

The Song of Songs in English Renaissance Literature: Kisses of Their Mouths

Noam Flinker





Treatment of and reference to the Song of Songs by a variety of authors including Spenser and Milton.
Many English Renaissance texts offer readings of the Song of Songs, by both well-known authors, such as Shakespeare, and the long neglected (William Baldwin, Robert Aylett, Abiezer Coppe and Lawrence Clarkson). This new study looks at the different traditions they represent, and most notably the balance in the tension of the Song of Songs as oral and written, carnal and spiritual. The introduction presents a historical and theoretical discussion of Canticles, using a Rabbinic model for juxtaposing orality and textuality; the author goes on to argue that from the time of ancient Sumer through medieval England motifs found in the Song of Songs are simultaneously sexual and spiritual just as they are likewise oral and textual. By attempting to recover oral approaches to any text, we encounter a series of forces that act to balance an open, oral, and sexual understanding of the erotic biblical text against a more closed, textual and spiritual reading. This balance is then traced through works by Baldwin, Spenser, Aylett, Coppe, Clarkson and Milton.

NOAM FLINKER is currently Chairperson at the Department of English, University of Haifa.


October 2000
182 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Studies in Renaissance Literature
ISBN: 9780859915861
Format: Hardback
BISAC LIT004120, REL040000
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An extremely informative book that contains fascinating readings of little-known works - and the inter-textuality existing between them and a number of major texts - in the light of one of the most beautiful and elusive of the Hebrew scriptures... Mature and seasoned scholarship... important book. SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY NEWS

Impressive and wide-ranging... deftly explores the role of the Song of Songs in a series of English writers from William Baldwin to Milton, a role that has been often recognised but never given the extensive and nuanced treatment provided here. YEAR'S WORK IN ENGLISH STUDIES

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