The symbolic mode of thought and expression that produced the
mixed art form of the emblem also informs and shapes much of the
literature of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. This study
explores the relationship between the emblem proper and the
literature of England and Germany during the period.
The book proceeds from a definition of the emblem, based on a
critical theory which has received little attention among English
and Romance scholars, to a detailed analysis of the form and
function of emblematic imagery in a variety of literary forms. The
chapters following move into specific discussions of the structural
affinities between emblems and poetry, drama, and fiction.
The emblem-books are important as a cross-reference for the
meaning of motifs in literature. They indicate what educated men
knew about nature, history, and mythology and, furthermore, how
they interpreted this knowledge. It is not only as a mode of
thought but also as an art form that the emblem offers a valuable
perspective on the purely verbal art of literature. Emblematic
structure and imagery function as a formal, shaping principle in
literature in all its genres and forms. Imaginatively conceived,
carefully researched, and clearly presented, this book makes
connections which will enrich the field of comparative studies.