Chaucer in Ireland
Archaism, etymology and the idea of development
in Rereading Chaucer and Spenser
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In A View of the Present State of Ireland, Spenser cites Chaucer twice in order to authorise his claims about the meaning of words in relation to Irish culture. These citations are motivated not just by antiquarian curiosity, but by colonial ambition to radically transform Irish society. In this way, Spenser’s use of Chaucer in A View is similar to his much more extended engagement with Chaucer in his poetry. In each medium, the English past provides material for the creation of novel forms in the present. Just as Spenser reaches back to Chaucer to help forge and authorise his innovative poetics, so does he look back to Chaucer to prove that the English past can guide the reform of Irish material and legal culture in the present.

Rereading Chaucer and Spenser

Dan Geffrey with the New Poete


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