The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia (The Old Arcadia), Paperback

The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia (The Old Arcadia) Paperback

Part of the Oxford World's Classics series


Philip Sidney was in his early twenties when he wrote his 'Old' Arcadia for the amusement of his younger sister, the Countess of Pembroke. The book, which he called 'a trifle, and that triflingly handled', reflects their youthful vitality.

The 'Old' Arcadia tells a romantic story in a manner comparable to that of Shakespeare's early comedies. It is divided into five 'Acts', and abounds in lively speeches, dialogues, and quasi-dramatic tableaux. Two young princes, Pyrocles and Musidorus, disguise themselves as an Amazon and a shepherd to gain access to the Arcadian Princesses, who have been taken into semi-imprisonment by their father to avoid the dangers foretold by an oracle.

As a vehicle for Sidney's prophetic ideas about English versification, the 'Old' Arcadia also includes over seventy poems in a wide variety of metres and genres. In clarity, symmetry, and coherence the 'Old' version is greatly superior both to the ambitious but unfinished 'New' Arcadia and the amalgamated, 'composite' version, a hybrid monster which Sidney himself never envisaged. ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe.

Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Classic fiction (pre c 1945)
  • ISBN: 9780199549849



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