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Empire, mutability, and moral philosophy in early modernity

At the heart of Edmund Spenser’s moral allegory in The Faerie Queene is a problem that would become central to English intellectual life well into the modern era: understanding colonialism, and the coercive violence on which it depends, as a form of moral activity. Spenser’s ethics reads Spenser as a moral theorist whose ethics are significantly shaped by his experiences as a colonial administrator in Elizabethan Ireland. It illustrates how both his poetry and prose take up key shifts in early modern moral philosophy, while addressing the political project of colonial empire-building. This book is an essential study of Spenser as an ethicist grappling, on the one hand, with the decline and transformation of the classical and humanist virtue ethics tradition in the late sixteenth century, and on the other, with imagining new paradigms of heroic subjectivity for the early modern, imperial nation. It examines the ways Spenser draws on and reworks the Western ethical tradition during a period of tremendous cultural upheaval and political transformation, and illuminates that philosophical tradition’s evolution alongside early modern England’s wider political and economic transformation into a global nation-state built on the foundations of colonial expansion. Emphasizing the conceptual rigor, clarity, and coherence of Spenser’s moral vision, it depicts Spenser as a literary ethicist rigorously committed to discovering a politically and metaphysically viable account of moral life in an era that starkly reveals the ancient virtues’ conceptual and practical limitations.

Andrew Hadfield

3 Edmund Spenser’s Dublin Andrew Hadfield It has long been accepted that Ireland had a potent effect on the imagination of Edmund Spenser (1552/4–99), the most important non-dramatic poet of the English Renaissance. Often this has been seen in entirely negative terms, especially since C. S. Lewis argued that ‘Spenser was the instrument of a detestable policy in Ireland’, so that by the fifth book of The Faerie Queene ‘the wickedness he had shared begins to corrupt his imagination’.1 That book – at least the allegorical representation of events in Ireland – was

in Dublin
Tamsin Badcoe

Spenser writes, a trespasser who ‘once hath fastened/ His foot thereon, may neuer it recure,/ But wandreth euer more vncertein and vnsure’ (II.xii.12). For a moment, the nature of the space, and the way one encounters it, temporarily coincide. When offering a kind of shorthand for the discontinuous landscape of The Faerie Queene , Angus Fletcher has observed that ‘the questing mind fills the area between the places, while the places – quite unreal as places we might have been to – are islands of hope in a landscape of wonder’; 4 yet, insular space in Spenser’s

in Edmund Spenser and the romance of space
Affiliation, allusion, allegory
Rachel E. Hile

2 Spenser’s satire of indirection: affiliation, allusion, allegory The previous chapter provided a preliminary analysis of how indirect satire works to create a sense of an allegorical connection to the real world and real situations and discussed how allusions, symbolism, and analogy prompted allegorical projections that inflected contemporaries’ understanding of the message of Mother Hubberds Tale, Spenser’s best-known satirical work. In this chapter, I will continue analyzing Spenserian indirection in satire, but with an additional concept in play by

in Spenserian satire
An analyzed facsimile edition

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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Thinking poets

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 poetics.

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Friendship and Literary Patronage
Wayne Erickson

2 Spenser and Ralegh Friendship and Literary Patronage1 Wayne Erickson all accounts agree in giving him a commanding presence.1 Sir John Pope Hennessy, discussing portraits of Ralegh, 18832 Like many Spenserians and, I suppose, many Ralegheans, I have wanted to call Spenser and Ralegh friends,3 at least in the guarded manner adopted by Jerry Mills in his article on Ralegh in the Spenser Encyclopedia. He writes that, ‘[f]or Spenser, Ralegh was more than a patron’, that in the Letter to Ralegh and in Spenser’s dedications to Ralegh, ‘there are suggestions of

in Literary and visual Ralegh
Attractive opposites

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.

Dan Geffrey with the New Poete

This is a much-needed volume that brings together established and early career scholars to provide new critical approaches to the relationship between Geoffrey Chaucer and Edmund Spenser. By reading one of the greatest poets of the Middle Ages alongside one of the greatest poets of the English Renaissance, this collection poses questions about poetic authority, influence and the nature of intertextual relations in a more wide-ranging manner than ever before. With its dual focus on authors from periods often conceived as radically separate, the collection also responds to current interests in periodisation. This approach will engage academics, researchers and students of medieval and early modern culture.

Tamsin Badcoe

It is unlikely that any amount of utilitarian objectivizing will ever wholly dispel the symbolic resonance that arises from that strange tension between shaping line and unshaped space, between bounded and boundless. 1 I ask you: Is it not time to slash Janus’s face? 2 In his translation of Sonnet 26 from Les Antiquitez de Rome , Spenser invokes the technical language of spatial representation only to dismiss it, in order to gauge the success of an empire that once stretched its influence to the limits of the known world. At the height of

in Edmund Spenser and the romance of space