Edmund Spenser: A Life

Edmund Spenser: A Life

Language: English

Pages: 656

ISBN: 0198703007

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Edmund Spenser's innovative poetic works have a central place in the canon of English literature. Yet he is remembered as a morally flawed, self-interested sycophant; complicit in England's ruthless colonisation of Ireland; in Karl Marx's words, 'Elizabeth's arse-kissing poet'-- a man on the make who aspired to be at court and who was prepared to exploit the Irish to get what he wanted.

In his vibrant and vivid book, the first biography of the poet for 60 years, Andrew Hadfield finds a more complex and subtle Spenser. How did a man who seemed destined to become a priest or a don become embroiled in politics? If he was intent on social climbing, why was he so astonishingly rude to the good and the great Lord Burghley, the earl of Leicester, Sir Walter Ralegh, Elizabeth I and James VI? Why was he more at home with 'the middling sort' -- writers, publishers and printers, bureaucrats, soldiers, academics, secretaries, and clergymen -- than with the mighty and the powerful? How did the appalling slaughter he witnessed in Ireland impact on his imaginative powers? How did his marriage and family life shape his work?

Spenser's brilliant writing has always challenged our preconceptions. So too, Hadfield shows, does the contradictory relationship between his between life and his art.

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rurall skill. (36) For some Arlo-Hill has a real meaning, as do the rivers and mountains in the area, and they will understand the significance of the poem, which is another reason why it is likely that the Mutability Cantos did circulate in manuscript before they were published. But for others there will be anxiety and confusion as to whether they should know about a terrain that is alien to them. On one level, Spenser is exposing the difficulty of chorographical poetry and its accompanying

Letter-Book were ever actually sent, and certainly many of the later ones look like writing experiments with the form rather than real epistles. But these first letters seem more genuine and it looks as if Harvey was practising to make sure that he expressed himself exactly as he wanted to: see H. R. Woudhuysen, ‘Leicester’s Literary Patronage: A Study of the English Court, 1578–1582’, unpublished DPhil thesis, University of Oxford, 1980, pp. 140–78. See also the analysis in Josephine Waters

Post-Medieval Archaeology 39 (2005), 133–54; Eric Klingelhofer, ‘Current Archaeological Excavations at Kilcolman Castle’, Bulletin of the Early Modern Ireland Committee 1 (1994), 51–4. See also D. Newman Johnson, ‘Kilcolman Castle’, Sp. Enc., pp. 417–22; James N. Healy, The Castles of County Cork (Cork: Mercier, 1988), pp. 343–4. 7. Herbert Francis Hore, ‘Woods and Fastnesses in Ireland’, UJA, 1st ser. 6 (1858), 145–61, at 145; Power, ‘Archaeology of the Munster Plantation’, p. 24. 8.

115–29; Hugh De Lacy, ‘Astrology in the Poetry of Edmund Spenser’, JEGP 33 (1934), 520–43; J. C. Eade, ‘Astronomy, astrology’, Sp. Enc., pp. 72–4. 57. Heffner, ‘Did Spenser Die in Poverty?’, p. 222. 58. Variorum, x. 531; Jack B. Oruch, ‘Works, lost’, Sp. Enc., pp. 737–8. 59. Spenser, Faerie Queene, p. 691. 60. Zurcher, ‘Printing of the Cantos of Mutabilitie’, p. 58; Hadfield, ‘Spenser and Samuel Brandon’; Lethbridge, ‘Spenser’s Last Days’, pp. 328–31. 61. Zurcher, ‘Printing of the

officers most closely related to the bishop and responsible for implementing his policies in the diocese, although the records for the Rochester diocese are poor for this period.201 The episode perhaps refers to Spenser’s experience of the ecclesiastical courts in Rochester. The final line cited here seems ambiguous, suggesting that Roffyn cuts the wolf’s throat, which then sprays out sheep’s blood. It recalls an incident early on in The History of Reynard the Fox, a book Spenser would have

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