Edmund Spenser

August 1996
254 pages
22.8x15.2 in
Literary Criticism in Perspective
ISBN: 9781571130730
Format: Hardback
Camden House

Edmund Spenser

A Reception History

David Hill Radcliffe

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Survey of Spenser's critical reception, showing how it is conditioned by period and cultural context.
Spenser was vital to attempts to define what English literature should be: in Tudor England, a Protestant literature; in Stuart England, a modern literature; in Hanoverian England, a romantic and British literature. In Victorian Britain, lecturers and essayists used Spenser to exemplify the proper aims of a popular and moral literature, while in the twentieth century philologists and academic critics have used The Faerie Queene to illustrate the workings of 'culture'.
David Radcliffe argues that Spenser's writings entered actively into the process of redefining what literature is and does. In epigrams and verse epistles, prose redactions and scholarly essays, the Poet's Poet became the Critic's Poet, as various readers adopted his typology, characterisation, allegory, description, narrative devices, and modes of interpretation.


A lively study that traces the fortunes of the poet in his own and succeeding centuries. Radcliffe concludes with an unblinking discussion of Spenser criticism in the last thirty years. . . There are many surprises in this deft and rewarding book. STUDIES IN ENGLISH LITERTURE 1500-1900
A valuable book; it is highly informative; it has the courage to take a long perspective ... and it is acute in its observations. ENGLISH STUDIES
A magisterial volume... YEARBOOK OF ENGLISH STUDIES

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