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Commodifying the author: The mediation of Aretino’s fame in the Harvey-Nashe pamphlet war

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Kate De RyckerORCiD



This is the final published version of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by University of Chicago Press, 2019.

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This essay considers the way in which one of the key literary events of the 1590s– the Harvey-Nashe pamphlet war– was structured around the function of a controversial author, Pietro Aretino. This literary quarrel was important not only in defining the more aggressive, satirical tone of late Elizabethan literature, but specifically because it marked a key development in the nature of authorial identity. For Elizabethan writers, Aretino had initially been known as the prototypical professional author, having garnered fame through the publication of his writing. However, by the 1590s he had become a symbol of Italianate vice in the minds of most English commentators. This essay suggests that this transformation of Aretino’s posthumous reputation was enacted by a process of ‘vanished mediation’ both during his own career, and after his death in 1556, and will argue that in an eulogy to Aretino from The Unfortunate Traveller (1594) Nashe was acutely aware of the ways in which Aretino’s literary history had been re-written. This attentiveness to the intervention of later commentators would go on to inform Nashe’s uneasiness, expressed most fully in Have with you to Saffron-Walden (1596), with the reliability of print to preserve his own literary fame.

Publication metadata

Author(s): De Rycker K

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: English Literary Renaissance

Year: 2019

Volume: 49

Issue: 2

Pages: 145-171

Print publication date: 11/04/2019

Acceptance date: 15/08/2017

Date deposited: 15/09/2017

ISSN (print): 0013-8312

ISSN (electronic): 1475-6757

Publisher: University of Chicago Press


DOI: 10.1086/702634


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