Spenser's Secret Career
Edmund Spenser (c.1552-99) conducted two careers at once: a celebrated poet, he also pursued a lifelong career as secretary to various political and ecclesiastical figures. Richard Rambuss's book explores how this latter career, usually allotted only cursory mention in accounts of Spenser's professional ambitions, informed his poetic career. Working from the fact that contemporary bureaucratic treatises defined the management of secrets as the central occupation of secretaryship, this study provides a careerist context for the attention to secrecy throughout Spenser's poetry. It takes issue with prevailing new historicist accounts which see Spenser's careerism as shaped entirely by a single-minded pursuit of laureateship along a Virgilian route from pastoral to epic. Spenser's Secret Career presents an alternative picture, arguing that for Spenser the manipulation of secrets - his own and others' - provided a strategy of self-promotion for both of his careers.
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