Edmund Spenser: A Lifeby Andrew Hadfield
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 the make who aspired to be at court and who was prepared to exploit the
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 the make 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 to the 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? How did 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.
"Hadfield's Spenser is revelatory and performed with authentic scholarship and drive". --Harold Bloom
"Even the most serious readers will learn more than they might imagine about a colorful, seminal era." --Publishers Weekly--- Best new Books
" Andrew Hadfield displays a rare understanding of the poet's ambiguous legacy, of his relationship to history and then to art. Mr. Hadfield makes no simple judgments about the connection or disconnection between beauty and cruelty, but he offers a nuanced and clever reading of the work and the man that made the work". Colm Toibin, Books of the Year, Wall Street Journal
. Hadfield's thorough analysis of the self-referential elements in Spenser's writings makes this a book that those studying Spenser will want to consult frequently. The impressive apparatus includes 2,535 endnotes, a 64-page bibliography, 47 plates, and appendixes on Spenser's descendants, portraits, and previous biographies. Summing Up: Essential. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty. CHOICE
"His book will be the new standard scholarly biography of Spenser, and is essential for literary scholarship of the era." --Library Journal
"A book that those studying Spenser will want to consult frequently...Essential." --Choice
"[Hadfield] has created a lasting and colorful portrait of one of England's (and Ireland's greatest writers." --Renaissance Quarterly
- Oxford University Press
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Meet the Author
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.
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