Shakespeare, Spenser, and the Crisis in Ireland
Cambridge University Press, Dec 11, 1997 - Literary Criticism - 246 pages
Ireland is increasingly recognized as a crucial element in early modern British literary and political history. Christopher Highley's book explores the most serious crisis the Elizabethan regime faced: its attempts to subdue and colonize the native Irish. Through a range of literary representations from Shakespeare and Spenser, and contemporaries like John Hooker, John Derricke, George Peele and Thomas Churchyard he shows how these writers produced a complex discourse about Ireland that cannot be reduced to a simple ethnic opposition. This book challenges traditional views about the impact of Spenser's experience in Ireland on his cultural identity, while also arguing that the interaction between English and Ireland is a powerful and provocative subtext in the work of Shakespeare and his fellow dramatists. Highley argues that the confrontation between an English imperial presence and a Gaelic 'other' was a profound factor in the definition of an English poetic self.
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