Sir Philip Sidney has always relied on the kindness of editors. According to Oxford University professor Kathryn Sutherland, “Jane Austen was a poor speller and erratic grammarian who got a big helping hand from her editor." Like Persuasion or Emma, Sidney's Arcadia is also a work of genius. One hesitates to touch a syllable, to change a word, to alter the syntax of a sentence so as not to disturb some hidden beauty or lost meaning. And yet there are too many places, from the first page on, where you cannot read without re-reading, where the sense is lost, or all seems dark. Arcadia has become like an old picture whose beauty is hidden by layers of grime. It has grown dim to our eyes. It needs restoration.
"Ross and Davis have undertaken a daring venture: to "restore," as they put it, the immense masterpiece of English Renaissance prose, Sidney's Arcadia. Why, one might ask, should Sidney's baroque syntax be made simpler and his archaic diction modernized? Because their complexity and unfamiliarity, after the lapse of some 400 years, has made the work all but unreadable, except by a small and steadily shrinking cohort of scholars. The choice is either pious oblivion or the kind of creative updating we routinely welcome in contemporary productions of Shakespeare. Ross and Davis want to give a new generation of readers access to a literary achievement of surpassing intelligence and beauty."—Stephen Greenblatt, Cogan Professor of English, Harvard University
Award-winning novelist Sharon Solwitz helps restore Sidney's Arcadia: 2 minute video.
Purdue graduate student Joanna Benskin advises how to keep Sidney's Arcadia clear for global readers: 2 minute video.
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