Edmund Spenser’s Shepheardes Calender (1579)

An analyzed facsimile edition

Editor: Kenneth Borris

As first published in 1579, Spenser’s verbal-visual Shepheardes Calender is a most extraordinary early modern book, and its particular characteristics have major interpretive importance. This present volume freshly reassesses that first edition as a material text in relation to previous book history, and provides the first clearly detailed facsimile reproduction of it available as a book. Almost all previous surrogates for the 1579 Calender, whether disseminated as printed books, in microfilm, or online, as well as the reproductions of its twelve woodcuts typically included in modern editions, lack sufficient clarity to represent the original book reliably. This problem has especially impaired understanding of the Calender’s pictures, each of which was designed to complement one of Spenser’s twelve eclogues. In this way and others, such as the inclusion of a full commentary on the poetry, the 1579 Calender’s total design as a book radically rethought the bibliographical possibilities for presenting imaginative fiction and new poetry. This volume illuminates its antecedents, development, and production, the profound interconnections of its illustrations and poetry, its redefinition of pastoral, its bold redefinition of the proper role of poets and insistence on the national significance of poetic achievement, its daring political satire, and its creative singularity. For many years to come, An Analyzed Facsimile will be essential for study of Spenser’s Calender, this poet, and his importance for English literary history.

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