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The Old Arcadia

3.55 of 5 stars 3.55  ·  rating details  ·  314 ratings  ·  18 reviews
Sidney was in his early twenties when he wrote his 'Old' Arcadia for the amusement of his younger sister, the Countess of Pembroke. A romantic story in the manner of Shakespeare's early comedies, the 'Old' Arcadia also includes over 70 poems in a variety of meters and genres. This edition
contains a Glossary and an Index of First Lines.
Paperback, 432 pages
Published June 3rd 1999 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published January 28th 1926)
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Hamlet by William ShakespeareMacbeth by William ShakespeareThe Prince by Niccolò MachiavelliDon Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes SaavedraParadise Lost by John Milton
Renaissance Literature Reading List
41st out of 78 books — 40 voters
Arcadia by Tom StoppardThe Old Arcadia by Philip SidneyThe Tomb of God by Richard AndrewsPlays 5 by Tom StoppardEt in Arcadia Ego by Erwin Panofsky
Arcadia
2nd out of 28 books — 4 voters


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Community Reviews

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A.J.
Okay, I'm not going to sit here and pretend I read all of this. I'm not even going to claim that heretofore allegedly there may or may not have been a point the duration of which is uncertain that a person, namely myself, might have concurrently been disposed to a proportionate reading of the aforementioned text which may or may not have resulted in the phrase, "I read most of it."

What I will say is, I read enough of it, and the enough I read was also enough to question whether or not the Renai...more
Rachel Brand
Read for EN4341: Renaissance Sexualities: Rhetoric and the Body 1580-1660.

This one is really difficult to rate as, as interesting as this book was, it was very difficult to read because of how dense the text was. It had a tendency to go off on tangents that, while apparently being essential to the text (if what I learned in my tutorials was true), almost put me to sleep at times. I have a feeling that my lecturer never expected any of us to finish this book as she gave a very detailed descripti...more
Keegan
I don't usually like things that are old, especially stuffy prose from the 1500s, but Sidney's masterpiece (at least his prose masterpiece) is wonderfully relatable and actually quite funny. Who doesn't love a story where two heroes kill a full-grown lion and bear within the first 100 pages.

Spoiler alert: it does turn quite serious and the ending raises questions of authenticity, but the text as a whole is one that everyone should read in the canon of literature in English.
Juris
RATING: 3.5
With excellent prose and many poems, Sir Philip Sidney tells a tale of two young princes who are cousins and best friends. Sidney seems to have written it in almost the form of a play with five "books or acts," and heavy dialogue. The story begins very humorous and playful, but later becomes more serious. The Eclogues I am not sure were necessary. I felt the story could have been told without them and the reader still has plenty of poetry mixed in the prose of each book.
THE OLD ARCAD...more
Emily
If you like 16th C men trying to impress women by cross-dressing and fighting off bears . . .
Pam
This book is supposed to mark the beginings of the novel. It's also the first time the name Pamela is used in literature.(Not that I'd have any reason to care about that :).)

I read selections from it and liked it, so I got the book from the library. It's about 800 pages long and not an easy read, but I'm enjoying it. I just finished book 1 of the five books comprising the story, and I'm going to keep going.

I finished!!!!

The story begins with Musidorus being washed up on the shore of Arcadia. As...more
Edward Butler
UPDATE: The "New" Arcadia is superior to the "Old" one; take my word for it. It's the one you want to read, because it's the one that was read for more than two hundred years. And Sidney's craft had clearly matured. Get the Maurice Evans edition in the Penguin Classical Library.

I read this after being dazzled by Sidney's Astrophel and Stella, and though I think it an admirable achievement, I don't think it compares. It's youthful and exuberant, very technically accomplished, and sometimes insigh...more
Edward Butler
This is the "New" Arcadia, which is "new" in the sense that it is Sidney's late, unfinished revision of his earlier novel, but it is "old" in the sense that this is the one people read for over two hundred years before the "old" version, which had only circulated privately and then been forgotten, was rediscovered.

Don't worry about all that. This is the Arcadia you want to read, and this is the perfect edition to read it in (the one edited by Maurice Evans and published by Penguin). It is clear...more
Johnw1
For the first 100 pages or so I thought this was great fun. It is a farce - think of the shenanigans in Shakespeare's comedies and then multiply the confusion by ten and you get somewhere close to this. Later, this lost its appeal and I became bored. One can only cope with so much and there weren't the same jewels of brilliance as you find in Shakespeare that make even so ridiculous a play as As You Like It bearable, or even memorable (i.e. Jaques' soliloquies).

This book has value as literary hi...more
Bryn Hammond
I also have The Old Arcadia (editor Katherine Duncan-Jones), his original 'trifle' written in his twenties. But give me The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia (editor Maurice Evans) -- at twice the page count -- baroque and in confusion and unfinished at his death. The first was a silly romance, that he tried to make into an epic with serious concerns. I was most struck by the imprisonment sequence, late in the book, that becomes quite gothic in its extraction of drama from tortured characters.
Teresa
Jun 14, 2007 Teresa rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: dedicated prose readers
Sidney wrote two versions of this book. The first draft is good, short, and fun. The revised version doubles the size at least, but I'd recommend it. The prose is beautiful, the interpolated stories reinvent the themes, and the moral questions are more complex. And of course, everything written after this book was influenced by it (from King Lear to Stoppard's Arcadia).
Matt
This is one of the most beautiful things I have ever read.
Sunflower
I have never finished reading it. I found it boring lol Maybe some day I will finish it. I was 10 years younger when I 1st got my hands on it.
Carol
New Arcadia is even better, though both versions are equally good. Too bad Sidney passed away before completing the much more epic revision.
Tracy
Jul 15, 2012 Tracy added it
Just think if Sidney had gone to an MFA program. This could have been such a terrific books!!!
Jessica
If you can decipher the language, it's a whimsical read.
Angie Blake filtness
hope...love fear and devastation
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From Wikipedia:

Sir Philip Sidney was an English poet, courtier and soldier, and is remembered as one of the most prominent figures of the Elizabethan Age.
More about Philip Sidney...
A Defence of Poetry Astrophel and Stella Defence of Poesie, Astrophil and Stella, and Other Writings The Major Works Sidney's The Defence of Poesy and Selected Renaissance Literary Criticism (Penguin Classics)

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