Edmund Spenser's A View of the State of Ireland is an exemplary text that participates in several historical moments. Since its first publication in 1633 it has been read as an anti-Irish treatise. As a critical intervention in the public sphere by a major canonical author it has been drawn upon by some of the most important writers of subsequent ages, from Milton through to Wordsworth and Heaney.
The View has formed a key text in discussion of modern Ireland by distinguished critics such as Edward Said, Stephen Greenblatt and Declan Kiberd. This new edition of a founding document of English colonial culture promises to bring a compelling and controversial text to a larger audience than has hitherto been possible. As a highly influential colonial discourse and an exemplary exercise in the Renaissance dialogue form it merits the attention of scholars working across a range of disciplines and periods - in the Renaissance, in Irish studies, in the new British history, and in post-colonial theory. In literary studies, the View is now especially valued for the key it provides to the allegorical treatment of Ireland in Spenser's epic The Faerie Queene. In this new edition, aimed at securing for this vital document the wide readership it deserves, the editors offer the first published text, as edited by Sir James Ware (1633). Ware's preface and notes are supplemented with an authoritative introduction, discussing the View's reception, relating it to Spenser's corpus as a whole, and summarizing recent scholarship. The editors also provide a bibliography of criticism, and detailed notes designed to help the student.