Worthy friends
Speght’s Chaucer and Speght’s Spenser
in Rereading Chaucer and Spenser
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Thomas Speght was the first Chaucer editor to present readers with a ‘medieval’ Chaucer firmly situated in the past. By providing a substantial apparatus of supplementary materials aiming to facilitate access to Chaucer’s works, Speght was implicitly highlighting Chaucer’s datedness. At the same time, Speght also used his ‘additions’ to present Chaucer as a true English classic and national poet still worthy of being read, and to insist that Chaucer’s works continued to be relevant to his sixteenth-century readers. This chapter traces the evolution of the front and back matter of Speght’s editions (of 1598 and 1602) and analyses how they serve Speght’s double agenda to present Chaucer as a poet both ancient and ‘modern’. In particular, it examines how Speght pursued his double strategy by stressing links between Chaucer and Edmund Spenser and by fashioning a ‘friendship’ between the two major English poets of the past and present.

Rereading Chaucer and Spenser

Dan Geffrey with the New Poete


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