Why read between the lines?
Derricke, paratext, and poetic reception
in John Derricke’s The Image of Irelande: with a Discoverie of Woodkarne
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While material discussions of John Derricke’s Image of Irelande (1581) often focus on the woodcarvings and print history, this study focuses on the textual content and presentation, particularly the glosses, dedication, and multiple letters to the reader, in order to locate Derricke’s text in sixteenth-century poetic discussions of representation, interpretation, and reception. In the dedication to Sir Phillip Sidney, Derricke reveals his anxiety over these issues – an anxiety further illustrated in the abundance of glosses that clutter the text. The content of the glosses appear to offer a key to the text, yet fail to explicate the text or help a reader decipher the poem, often raising more questions than they answer. By examining the interplay between the glosses and their corresponding lines, this chapter argues that as the text progresses, the glosses become a free-standing work of sorts and a place where Derricke’s poetic concerns and anxieties can be traced.

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