A Critical Companion to Spenser Studies by Bart Van Es

By Bart Van Es

This e-book offers an authoritative consultant to discuss on Elizabethan England's poet laureate. It covers key subject matters and offers histories for the entire fundamental texts. a few of present day such a lot admired Spenser students provide debts of debates at the poet, from the Renaissance to the current day. crucial for these generating new examine on Spenser.

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At Cambridge, we learn further about the religious debates between Whitgift and Cartwright (31–6). There is still, however, much imagination: “Warmhearted and interested in people, Spenser must have acquired other friends during his college days. One of these may have been Edward Kirke” (39). Above all, Judson’s life is congenial. He knows that “Spenser was a secretary, but he was also a poet” (49), and he has new facts: “On the title-page Harvey recorded in Latin the fact that the book [The Traueiler of Ierome Turler] was a present from Edmund Spenser, secretary of the bishop of Rochester [John Young], 1578” (53).

Whether we agree with such insights, today they appear from a forgotten age concerned to mark the precise terms of Spenser’s genius. Toward the end of this phase, we are standing on the threshold of modern biography. John Payne Collier (1862) includes a detailed life in his edition (1: ix–clvi), again complete with copious footnotes. Collier still does not know that Spenser was educated at Merchant Taylors’ School (1: xi), or that his second wife’s maiden name was Boyle (1: xv), but he speculates that Spenser had a first wife, although he does not know her name and mistakenly cites the register of St Clement Danes in the Strand for evidence that Spenser had a daughter named Florence (1: xv–xi).

Few tongues can ever have been more voluble, as scarcely any pen more fluent . . He also comes before us as a man of iron will, of decision, of masterful resolution, of thoroughness against all odds . . his Poetry stands second only to the English Bible of 1611, in enriching our (poetical) language. (Grosart, 1882–84, 1: 250) The early twentieth century Twentieth-century scholarship itself is ushered in by the edition of Spenser’s “poetical works” that remains standard today: J. C. Smith and Ernest de Sélincourt (1909–10, 1912), which includes an introduction to the poet’s life and works.

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