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Edmund Spenser: A Life

3.5  ·  Rating Details ·  10 Ratings  ·  3 Reviews
Edmund Spenser (1554-99) was a strikingly innovative and experimental writer and, until the eighteenth century, was far more influential than Shakespeare in defining the course of English literature. His magisterial work, The Faerie Queene, is one of the most widely read English poems, but it should not overshadow the range and brilliance of his work in The Shepheardes ...more
Hardcover, 624 pages
Published August 1st 2012 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published November 1996)
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Liam Guilar
Jan 03, 2013 Liam Guilar rated it really liked it
Shelves: biographies



Five years ago, looking for modern biographies of Wyatt, Jonson and Spenser, there weren’t any. In the last two years all three writers have been the subject of substantial scholarly treatment. The author may be dead, facts unfashionable, and History just another form of fiction but the literary biography is alive and well and so, thankfully, is the kind of dedicated scholarship that makes it possible.

Hadfield’s new life of Spenser is “scholarly” rather than “enjoyable to read”. There are 624 p
...more
Pat
Jul 06, 2016 Pat rated it it was amazing
Literary biography is very, very difficult to do well. The biographer must balance the narrative of the writer's life with the narrative of their career. The life should inform the reading of the work, in the first instance, and then illuminate other historical, cultural and ethical issues.

Spenser's life poses serious problems as well--16th century life records are scant, even for the prominent, and there are substantial gaps in the evidence. Meanwhile, his writing appeared in bursts, rather tha
...more
Kevin
Jan 12, 2016 Kevin rated it it was ok
Good for what there is to work with, but most of that isn't very interesting. One of the few cases where the poet's life doesn't at all approach the level of interest that the poet's work commands.
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