Varhaiset kirja-arvostelijatJosuah Sylvester

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The first verse English translation of the Book of Job, and a fantasy epic poem about the woeful love between the Woodman and the Bear.

Computational, handwriting, and other types of evidence proves that Josuah Sylvester ghostwrote famous dramas and poetry, including the first “William Shakespeare”-bylined book Venus and Adonis (1593), the “Robert Greene”-bylined Orlando Furioso (1594) and the two “Mary Sidney”-assigned translations of Antonie (1592) and Clorinda (1595). Sylvester is also the ghostwriter behind famously puzzling attribution mysteries, such as the authorship of the anonymous “Shakespeare”-apocrypha Locrine (1595), and behind controversial productions such as the “Cyril Tourneur”-bylined Atheist’s Tragedy (1611). All of the famous texts that Sylvester ghostwrote have previously been modernized and annotated.

In contrast, most of Sylvester’s many volumes of self-attributed works have remained unmodernized and thus inaccessible to modern scholars. This neglect is unwarranted since under his own name, Sylvester served as the Poet Laureate between 1606-12 under James I’s eldest son, Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales. This volume addresses this scholarly gap by translating two works that capture Sylvester’s central authorial tendencies. As “John Vicars’” poetic biography argues, Sylvester was a “Christian-Israelite” or a Jew who converted to Christianity, which caused his exile from his native England and his early death abroad. Sylvester’s passion for his Jewish heritage is blatant in the percentage of texts in his group that are based on books in the Old Testament, including the “George Peele”-bylined Love of King David (1599) and the “R. V.”-bylined Odes in Imitation of the Seven Penitential Psalms (1601). This volume presents the first Modern English translation of the only verse Early Modern English translation of the Book of Job. The original Hebrew version’s dialogue is in verse, so that it can be sung or recited during services, and yet there still have not been any scholarly attempts to translate the Old Testament, from versions such as the Verstegan and Harvey-ghostwritten King James Bible, into verse to better approximate this original lyrical structure. Sylvester precisely translates all of the lines and chapters of Job, adding detailed embellishments for dramatic tension and realism. In the narrative, God is challenged by Lucifer to test if Job would remain loyal to God even if he lost his wealth and other blessings; God accepts the challenge and deprives Job of all of his possessions, his family, as well as his health. Job is devastated, but he remains humble and continues to have faith in God. Job’s faith is further challenged by extensive lectures from his friends, who accuse him of suffering because God has judged him to be sinful and in need of punishment.

Sylvester also specialized in dreamlike rewriting and remixing of myths from different cultures, as he does in Orlando Furioso, where the narrative leaps between Africa and India, and warfare leads Orlando to go insane. The title-page of Sylvester’s Woodman’s Bear warns readers of a similar trajectory with the epithet: “everybody goes mad once”. In this epic, Greco-Roman-inspired, mythological rewriting, a Woodman has proven to be uniquely resistant to Cupid’s love-arrows, so Cupid disguises himself in a Bear and makes both the Bear and the Woodman fall into desperate love for each other, out of which the Woodman only escape with a magic potion. Woodman’s Bear has been broadly claimed to have been Sylvester’s autobiographical account of a failed courtship, but the analysis across this volume reaches different conclusions and raises ideas for further inquiry.

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Biography & Memoir, Christian Fiction, Fantasy, Religion & Spirituality, Poetry, Literature Studies and Criticism
Anaphora Literary Press (Kustantaja)
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