Edmund Spenser: A Life

Paperback | November 12, 2014

byAndrew Hadfield

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Edmund Spenser's innovative poetic works have a central place in the canon of English literature. Yet he is remembered as a morally flawed, self-interested sycophant; complicit in England's ruthless colonisation of Ireland; in Karl Marx's words, "Elizabeth's arse-kissing poet" - a man on themake who aspired to be at court and who was prepared to exploit the Irish to get what he wanted.In his vibrant and vivid book, the first biography of the poet for 60 years, Andrew Hadfield finds a more complex and subtle Spenser. How did a man who seemed destined to become a priest or a don become embroiled in politics? If he was intent on social climbing, why was he so astonishingly rude tothe good and the great - Lord Burghley, the earl of Leicester, Sir Walter Ralegh, Elizabeth I and James VI? Why was he more at home with "the middling sort" - writers, publishers and printers, bureaucrats, soldiers, academics, secretaries, and clergymen - than with the mighty and the powerful? Howdid the appalling slaughter he witnessed in Ireland impact on his imaginative powers? How did his marriage and family life shape his work? Spenser's brilliant writing has always challenged our preconceptions. So too, Hadfield shows, does the contradictory relationship between his between life and his art.

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Edmund Spenser's innovative poetic works have a central place in the canon of English literature. Yet he is remembered as a morally flawed, self-interested sycophant; complicit in England's ruthless colonisation of Ireland; in Karl Marx's words, "Elizabeth's arse-kissing poet" - a man on themake who aspired to be at court and who was p...

Andrew Hadfield is Professor of English at the University of Sussex and Visiting Professor at the University of Grenada. He is author of a number of works on early modern literature.
Format:PaperbackDimensions:656 pagesPublished:November 12, 2014Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198703007

ISBN - 13:9780198703006

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsList of FiguresList of AbbreviationsIntroduction: Writing the Life1. Origins and Childhood2. Spenser goes to College3. Lost Years4. Annus Mirabilis5. To Ireland I6. Spenser's Castle7. Back to England8. 15919. More Lost Years and Second Marriage (1592-5)10. Return to London, 1596-711. Last Years, 1597-9AfterwordAppendix One: Spenser's DescendantsAppendix Two: Portraits of SpenserAppendix Three: Spenser's LivesBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

"Andrew Hadfield's Spenser is a remarkable piece of work ... It is difficult to imagine a more exhaustive examination of a poet's life." --Harold Weatherby, Sewanee Review 01/02/2014