Chapter: English Literature in the Sixteenth Century
Man, Henry the Eighth was a jerk.
But seriously, let's talk about poor Wyatt. Now, I'll admit that I find it hard to like anyone that may have been associated with the court of Henry VIII, but Wyatt may have been the most sympathetic guy there. For starters, he clearly loved Anne, and even wrote a thinly veiled poem about her (which is what I was being not-at-all-subtle about in yesterday's strip). The poor guy had to watch her get married off to King Psycho. Then he was locked up in the tower because Captain Crazypants thought Wyatt might've been sleeping with her. Then, to add insult to injury, he had to sit there in the Tower of London and watch from his window as Anne was beheaded for the crime of... well, I dunno. I guess the crime of actually being married to Henry the Eighth.
And yet, he escaped all of this unscathed. Despite going to the Tower twice and seeing everyone else beheaded, he managed to regain his freedom... only to die of a virus before the age of forty. Ah, the middle ages, where "45″ was considered a ripe old age.
Wyatt's major claim to fame historically is the sonnet, as he's generally credited with introducing it to the English language. This is, of course, another reason I like him more than the rest of Henry's crew. While More was being snotty and writing everything in Latin, Wyatt was actually attempting to introduce a new art form into his native tongue. Sadly, none of Wyatt's stuff was published within his own lifetime, but that's probably for the best. If that poem about wanting to "hunt the king's deer" actually went public while Henry was on the throne, Wyatt probably wouldn't have escaped the axe.
Now, appro of nothing, I bought the Bible yesterday. You may have seen me tweeting about it excitedly. It is, specifically, the New Oxford Annotated Bible (with the Apocrypha). I stumbled upon it used but in new condition at Bookmans and instantly knew it must be mine. I should probably note at this point that I don't believe a word of the Bible. As a literary text, however, I find it fascinating. That's why the Oxford Bible is so great - it contains secular footnotes and essays about the Bible, treating it not as a holy text but as a piece of ancient literature. It's full of historical references, possible sources for some of the stories, etc. It also features the Apocrypha, which is actually more interesting than the "official" Bible on several levels. I mean, taken at face value with just the facts, the Apocrypha can claim just as much legitimacy to being "the word of God" as any of the canon texts, as they were written around the same time periods. They were also generally accepted along with the rest of the books for hundreds of years, until a bunch of a control freaks at the Church decided they needed to censor what people did or didn't "need" to read. Lame. So anyway, the Oxford Bible is kind of like having a director's cut special edition of the Bible, which is tons of fun. As previously noted, I view Jehovah on the same level as I view Odin, Zeus, or Baby Infinity, so to have an edition that treats the Biblical text as literary mythology is pretty great.
And... yeah, I just spent way too much time talking about the Bible. Well, I'm certainly not the first.
Author: Thomas Wyatt • Year: c. early-1500s • Info:Wikipedia
Lit Brick is a comic started by Jodie Troutman in an effort to read the entire Norton Anthology of English Literature. Having eventually succeeded in that goal, it now features comics about all manner of random literature. For more of Jodie's work, visit longtalljodie.com!