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I think I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings is a very touching novel.The Schoole of Abuse by Stephen Gosson This pamphlet was published in 1579 and dedicated to Master Philip Sidney and its full title was:"The Schoole of Abuse, Conteining a plesaunt invective against Poets, Pipers, Plaiers, Iesters and such like Caterpillers of a commonwealth; Setting vp the Flagge of Defiance to their mischieuous exercise, and ouerthroing their Bulwarkes, by Prophane Writers, Naturall reason, and common experience”Gosson has been described as a satirist, a playwright and a pastoralist, but only incomplete versions of his plays survive and none of his pastorals and so we are left with his The Schoole of Abuse into which Philip Sidney is asked to enter.Ackroyd links these episodes with events in Timothy’s own life that reflect his thoughts and feelings, but some are more successful than others.The dream visions are an integral part of the novel and being set out in alternating chapters means that the reader is prepared for what is coming.
Seems like you have a good year of reading planned out. Or would he lecture you with all that charming spelling? Alternate chapters are dream visions that lead the reader through ikons of English artistic culture in an attempt to provide a spirit and a feel for what is so uniquely English.
What holds it back in my view is an overall feeling of misery and depression and a political message that manages to have a whiff, a malodor of nationalism and if I was being very critical maybe even of racism and sexism.
The book starts with Timothy Holcombe looking back on his life as he revisits an old building in London which served as a meeting hall where he and his father attracted a number of people who were seeking to be cured of their afflictions.
I expected to read a rant against the evils and corrupting influence of poetry and plays from the standpoint of an advocate of the new protestant religion bordering on Puritanism.
However while there are plenty of arguments as to how 16th century culture in respect of poetry and plays was undermining the moral fabric of society there is very little evidence taken from/or reference to the bible. First was the style of writing which draws heavily on John Lyly’s euphuistic approach, with its extended sentences containing any number of example, some of which appear almost contradictory and certainly hint at dualism.
He has provided an interesting footnote to Sixteenth century culture and one which at the time sparked a response from Sir Philip Sidney.