Rereading Chaucer and Spenser

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.

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‘This very welcome collection offers twelve essays both by young scholars and by senior figures who have shaped the field of Spenser’s medieval roots, specifically here in Chaucer. Studies that interrogate the continuities and transformations (rather than outright rejections) between the English middle ages and early modern period have grown in recent years – pre-eminently in the work of Helen Cooper, one of this volume’s contributors ... What emerges from this collaborative study of Spenser in relation a ‘collaborative’ medieval writer is not a retrograde conservatism on Spenser’s part, but rather a demonstration of the dynamics of Spenserian poetry. As Archer writes in the collection’s final essay, with the ‘seductive binary of the old and the new, Spenser hoodwinks his readers into taking untenable stances on either side… [I]n fact his work breaks down even attempts to reconcile the two’.
The Spenser Review
January 2020

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