This book brings together ten chapters on the relations between Spenser and Shakespeare. There has been much noteworthy work on the linguistic borrowings of Shakespeare from Spenser, but the subject has never before been treated systematically, and the linguistic borrowings lead to broader-scale borrowings and influences, which are treated here. An additional feature of the book is that a large bibliography of previous work is offered, which will be of the greatest help to those who follow up the opportunities offered by this collection. The book presents new approaches, heralding a resurgence of interest in the relations between two of the greatest Renaissance English poets to a wider scholarly group and in a more systematic manner than before. This will be of interest to students and academics interested in Renaissance literature.
Once a byword for Protestant sobriety and moral idealism, Spenser is now better
known for his irony and elusiveness. Yet his sense of humour is still
underestimated and misunderstood. Challenging the bias behind this neglect, this
study shows that humour, far from being peripheral or superficial, goes to the
heart of Spenser’s moral and doctrinal preoccupations. It explores rifts between
The Faerie Queene’s ambitious and idealising postures and its Protestant vision
of corruptible human nature. Figures to be comically ‘undone’ include the hero,
the chivalric lover, the virgin, and the ideal monarch – as well as Spenser’s
own epic-poet persona. Yet bathos has a positive significance in Christian
theology, and Spenserian humour proves to be an expression of tolerance and
faith as well as an instrument of satire. On this basis, Comic Spenser contends
that the alliance of humour and allegory in The Faerie Queene affirms the value
of the creative and ‘errant’ imagination.
The names Edmund Spenser and John Donne are typically associated with different
ages in English poetry, the former with the sixteenth century and the
Elizabethan Golden Age, the latter with the ‘metaphysical’ poets of the
seventeenth century. This collection of essays, part of The Manchester Spenser
series, brings together leading Spenser and Donne scholars to challenge this
dichotomous view and to engage critically with both poets, not only at the sites
of direct allusion, imitation, or parody but also in terms of common
preoccupations and continuities of thought, informed by the literary and
historical contexts of the politically and intellectually turbulent turn of the
century. Juxtaposing these two poets, so apparently unlike one another, for
comparison rather than contrast changes our understanding of each poet
individually and moves towards a more holistic, relational view of their
Formal Matters is intended as an exploration of the emerging and potential links in early modern literary and cultural studies between the study of material texts on the one hand, and the analysis of literary form on the other. The essays exemplify some of the ways in which an attention to the matter of writing now combines in critical practice with the questioning of its forms: how an interest in forms might combine with an interest in the material text and, more broadly, in matter and things material. Section I, ‘Forming literature’, makes literary and sub-literary forms its focus, examining notions of authorship; ways of reading, consuming, and circulating literary and non-literary material; and modes of creative production and composition made possible by the exigencies of specific forms. Section III, ‘The matters of writing’, examines forms of writing, both literary and non-literary, that grapple with other fields of knowledge, including legal discourse, foreign news and intelligence, geometry, and theology. At stake for the authors in this section is the interface between discourses encoded in, and even produced through, specific textual forms.Linking these two sections are a pair of essays take up the subject of translation, both as a process that transforms textual matter from one formal and linguistic mode to another and as a theorization of the mediation between specific forms, materials, and cultures.
, Shakespeare, Donne, Milton (London: Deutsch, 1971); Louis Martz, From Renaissance to Baroque: Essays on Literature and Art (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1991); Murray Roston, Tradition and Subversion in RenaissanceLiterature: Studies in Shakespeare, Spenser, Jonson, and Donne (Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 2007); Terry G. Sherwood, The Self in Early Modern Literature: For the Common Good (Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 2007); Adam Potkay, ‘Spenser, Donne, and the Theology of Joy’, Studies in English Literature 1500–1900 , 46.1 (2006
sources of romance, the generation of story, and the patterns of Pericles tales’, in Mary Ellen Lamb and Valerie Wayne (eds), Staging Early Modern Romance: Prose Fiction, Dramatic Romance, and Shakespeare , Routledge Studies in RenaissanceLiterature and Culture, 11 (New York: Routledge, 2009), pp. 21–46; and Stuart Gillespie, ‘Shakespeare and Greek romance: “like an old tale still”’, in Charles Martindale and Anthony B. Taylor (eds), Shakespeare and the Classics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), pp. 225–37. Stanley Wells, ‘Shakespeare and romance’, in
on specific Renaissance writers that substituted interrogation for reverence, finding in Renaissanceliterature useful articulations of the modern. 2 All of them mined Renaissance poets for models, techniques, images, metrical forms, and rhetorical possibilities, and the construction of the individual ‘voice’ of each of our writers owes something to their engagements with Renaissance poets. Partly interrogative, partly self-serving, the modernist redescription and reuse of Renaissance poetry – even recasting of the canon of Renaissance poetry – gave impetus to
and Spenser were at least partly inspired by medieval traditions of parody. 103 Subversive recontextualisations of romance formulae in Renaissanceliterature may announce a break with the past, but they can equally testify to a keen responsiveness to ironies embedded within the medieval romance tradition.
Christianity and humour
Despite the attractive idea of a ‘Merry England’ unburdened by post-Reformation notions of propriety, it was during the Middle Ages that ‘Christ never laughed’ was proverbial. As a late-fourteenth-century Wycliffite sermon reminds us
poetry supports the likelihood that he seriously considered taking holy
See my earlier ‘Literacy and Education’, in
A Companion to English RenaissanceLiterature and Culture , ed.
Michael Hattaway (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 2000), 95–105.
RenaissanceLiterature: Heroic Form in Sidney, Spenser, and Milton ( Cambridge : Cambridge University Press , 2000 ), pp. 164 – 80 . While Borris acknowledges the tension between heroic models, his emphasis on the reconciliation of epic celebration and Christian values, though valid, deflects our attention from irony and satire (see p. 177).
3 Cheney, ‘Spenser’s Parody’, p. 3; Berry, ‘Borrowed Armor/Free Grace’, pp. 142–51.
4 Longinus, On Sublimity , p. 470.
5 Joachim Du Bellay , La Deffence et illustration de la langue françoyse , ed. Jean