William Alabaster Criticism - Essay

Bertram Dobell (essay date 26 December 1903)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Dobell, Bertram. “The Sonnets of William Alabaster.” The Athenaeum, no. 3974 (26 December 1903): 856-58.

[In the following essay, Dobell announces his recovery of Alabaster's sonnet series and discusses the nature of the works.]

Considering what an amount of study and research has been devoted to the literary history of England during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, it might be thought that no fresh discoveries of any importance were likely to be made in so well-explored a field. Nevertheless I have been so fortunate myself in the recovery of unknown or only imperfectly known treasure-trove of those periods, that I am convinced that this is by no...

(The entire section is 2873 words.)

G. M. Story (essay date 1959)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Story, G. M. “William Alabaster and the Devotional Tradition.” In The Sonnets of William Alabaster, edited by G. M. Story and Helen Gardner, pp. xxiii-xxxvi. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1959.

[In the following excerpt from the introduction to the definitive publication of Alabaster's sonnets, Story overviews the sequence within the tradition of devotional poetry and highlights its distinctive elements.]

Not the least interesting paradox of Alabaster's eminently paradoxical verse is that its special quality comes from the fusion of an old and widespread devotional tradition with the new poetic temper of the last decade of the sixteenth century. His...

(The entire section is 4260 words.)

J. W. Binns (essay date 1974)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Binns, J. W. “Seneca and Neo-Latin Tragedy in England.” In Seneca, edited by C. D. N. Costa, pp. 205-34. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul Limited, 1974.

[In the following excerpt from his essay on three neo-Latin tragedies from the Elizabethan age, Binns determines the influence of Seneca upon Alabaster's Roxana.]

A large number of Renaissance plays which were written in Latin survive today from all the countries of Europe.1 In England, the plays which are extant from the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries form an interesting by-way of the Elizabethan drama.2 A number of tragedies in particular remain, which, cast in Senecan...

(The entire section is 4357 words.)

Lance K. Donaldson-Evans (essay date March 1975)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Donaldson-Evans, Lance K. “Two Baroque Devotional Poets: La Ceppéde and Alabaster.” Comparative Literature Studies 12, no. 1 (March 1975): 21-31.

[In the following essay, Donaldson-Evans compares Alabaster's sonnets to those of the French poet La Ceppéde in order to suggest similarities in devotional poetry across Europe.]

The rediscovery and ensuing re-evaluation of the devotional poetry of the baroque period has been one of the literary phenomena of the twentieth century. It is as though literary critics and readers alike have felt an intellectual and emotional kinship with the political, religious, and social upheavals which shook Europe after the...

(The entire section is 4434 words.)

George Klawitter (essay date 1983-4)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Klawitter, George. “Craft and Purpose in Alabaster's Incarnation Sonnets.” University of Hartford Studies in Literature 15-16, no. 3-1 (1983-4): 60-66.

[In the following essay, Klawitter provides a focused analysis of the fifteen of Alabaster's sonnets on the Incarnation of Christ.]

In An Apology for Poetry, Sidney divides verse into three kinds, none of which precisely describes the kind of religious verse which began to appear in the decades after his death. His first category, “they that did imitate the inconceivable excellencies of God,” refers to poets praising the Divinity, like “David in his Psalms,” but the category cannot accommodate...

(The entire section is 2681 words.)

Robert B. Caro (essay date October 1988)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Caro, Robert B. “William Alabaster: Rhetor, Meditator, Devotional Poet—II: Alabaster's Meditative Sonnets.” Recusant History 19, no. 2 (October 1988): 155-70.

[In the following essay, Caro examines the style of Alabaster's meditative sonnets and demonstrates how they anticipate subsequent developments in the rhetorical and meditative traditions.]

As we approach Alabaster's sonnets1 our expectation is enhanced not by the promise of poetic greatness but by the prospect of exploring pure instances of the kind of poetry born in the convergence of rhetoric and meditation. We will focus first on a sequence of sonnets remarkable for their rhetorical...

(The entire section is 6617 words.)

Elizabeth M. Richmond-Garza (essay date 1997)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Richmond-Garza, Elizabeth M. “‘She Never Recovered Her Senses’: Roxana and Dramatic Representations of Women at Oxbridge in the Elizabethan Age.” In Sex and Gender in Medieval and Renaissance Texts: The Latin Tradition, edited by Barbara K. Gold, Paul Allen Miller, and Charles Platter, pp. 223-46. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1997.

[In the following essay, Richmond-Garza highlights the thematic treatment of the woman and the Oriental in Elizabethan academic plays such as Alabaster's Roxana.]

Neoclassical theories of tragedy privilege the plays of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, with their careful observations of...

(The entire section is 10658 words.)

Ceri Sullivan (essay date April 2000)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Sullivan, Ceri. “Penitence in 1590s Weeping Texts.” Cahiers Élisabéthains 57, no. 5 (April 2000): 31-47.

[In the following excerpt, Sullivan studies the style and function of penitence in Alabaster's devotional sonnets in relation to other late Elizabethan writers.]

When without tears I look on Christ, I see
Only a story of some passion …
But if I look through tears Christ smiles on me …
And from his side the blood doth spin, whereon
My heart, my mouth, mine eyes still sucking be.(1)

Penitential writing such as William Alabaster's is opaque to the fastidious modern gaze in the literalism of its cannibal images, its depth of...

(The entire section is 4059 words.)