Published online by Cambridge University Press: 26 August 2022
Court talk is not the style that early modern courtiers use to speak to one another. It is an ersatz substitute for that style, an outsider’s fantasy about insider talk. Taken from conduct manuals, prose romances, poems, and plays, court talk is an overdone approximation of how courtiers are imagined to speak. Tracking the efflorescence of this style, this chapter turns to the still-neglected plays of John Lyly, which sell to their audiences the fantasy that their highly decorated style was the argot of the Elizabethan court. It is a fantasy that prompts aspirants from the period to weave Lyly’s style into their own conversations, even though it is only an exaggerated version, an erudite caricature, of the way Elizabethan barons and lords actually spoke. The failure of court talk to approximate courtliness is exactly what makes it into a synecdoche for a burgeoning social imaginary that I call the courtly public sphere. Through its relentless isocola, court talk expresses what Lauren Berlant might call the “cruel optimism” of this social imaginary: the emptiness of its promise of belonging, and the impossibility of ever letting that promise go.
To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure firstname.lastname@example.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.
Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.
Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.
To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.
To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.