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5.0 out of 5 stars A unique female voice from 1621, 3 Nov 2010
Roman Clodia (London) - See all my reviews
This review is from: First Part of the Countess of Montgomery's Urania, by Lady Mary Wroth (Cpl Bibliography) (Paperback)
Mary Wroth was the niece of Philip Sidney and her literary debt to her famous uncle is an important element in this, the first four books of her huge two-volume romance. Drawing on both his Arcadias (as well as other Hellenistic and Renaissance romances and Spenser's Faerie Queene), this is a huge epic romance, full of knights and their ladies, love quests, lost daughters, adulterous affairs and political usurpers.

The plot may be a bit baggy but the lack of swift and direct forward movement is an important part of this tale. The disruptions, blockages and circular or labyrinthine movements are a deliberate contrast to the forward teleology of conventional epic such as the Aeneid.

Above all, Wroth imbues her heroines with a kind of individuality and emotional weight which tends to be lacking in other romances: for me, the love triangle between Pamphilia, Amphilanthus and Antissia, in particular, is imbued with a dark melancholy which lifts the text beyond the merely conventional.

Starting this is a huge commitment (it's probably twice or three times the length of the Faerie Queene) but Wroth's is a unique female voice from the early seventeenth century (1621).
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First Part of the Countess of Montgomery's Urania, by Lady Mary Wroth (Cpl Bibliography)
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