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This review is taken from PN Review 47, Volume 12 Number 3, January - February 1986.

THEM AND US Sir Philip Sidney and the Interpretation of Renaissance Culture: the Poet in His Time and in Ours, edited by Gary F. Waller and Michael D. Moore (Croom Helm, London and Sydney/Barnes and Noble, Totowa N.J.) £14.95

This is a collection of essays, most of which began life as papers presented to a 1982 conference on Sir Philip Sidney at Wilfred Laurier University in Canada. The other essays were commissioned by the editors so that the book as a whole might constitute 'a representative selection of the most interesting work currently being done on Sidney and the Sidney Circle' - and so be a significant early contribution to the commemorations of Sidney which are bound to be prompted by the fourth centenary of his death in 1986.

But the volume also has wider pretensions than these, as the title indicates. The editors have taken the current state of scholarship on Sidney as a test case on the current state of Renaissance literary studies as a whole and so, by implication, on the current revolutions in literary critical method. They have divided the essays into two groups, one ('The Poet In His Time . . .') which employs 'the traditional methods of contextual historicism', and another ('. . . And In Ours') which attmpts 'to break beyond the limits of traditional historicism and whose methodology arises from the demands and questions of "our" history' - that is, to look at Sidney through post-structuralist eyes, with the clear inference that this is the way of the future.

The book seems to me to succeed admirably in its first ambition. The quality and variety of the essays in both sections - from Maurice Evans on ...

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