The Oxford Handbook of Edmund Spenser

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Richard A. McCabe
OUP Oxford, Oct 28, 2010 - Literary Criticism - 832 pages
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Written by a team of international experts, the forty-two essays in The Oxford Handbook of Edmund Spenser examine the entire canon of Spenser's work and the social and intellectual environments in which it was produced, providing new readings of the texts, extensive analysis of former criticism, and up-to-date bibliographies. Section I, 'Contexts', elucidates the circumstances in which the poetry and prose were written, and suggests some of the major political, social, and professional issues with which the work engages. Section 2, 'Works', presents a series of new readings of the canon informed by the most recent scholarship. Section 3, 'Poetic Craft', provides a detailed analysis of what Spenser termed the poet's 'cunning', the linguistic, rhetorical, and stylistic skills that distinguish his writing. Section 4, 'Sources and Influences', examines a wide range of subtexts, intertexts ,and analogues that contextualise the works within the literary conventions, traditions and genres upon which Spenser draws and not infrequently subverts. Section 5, 'Reception', grapples with the issue of Spenser's effect on succeeding generations of editors, writers, painters, and book-illustrators, while also attempting to identify the most salient and influential strands in the critical tradition. The volume serves as both companion and herald to the Oxford University Press edition of Spenser's Complete Works. No 'agreed' view of Spenser emerges from this work or is intended to. The contributors approach the texts from a variety of viewpoints and employ diverse methods of critical interpretation with a view to stimulating informed discussion and future scholarship.

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About the author (2010)


Richard A. McCabe is Fellow of Merton College, and Professor of English Language and Literature at Oxford University. He was elected FBA in 2007. He is author of Joseph Hall: A Study in Satire and Meditation (1982), The Pillars of Eternity: Time and Providence in 'The Faerie Queene' (1989), Incest, Drama, and Nature's Law 1550-1700 (1993), and Spenser's Monstrous Regiment: Elizabethan Ireland and the Poetics of Difference (2002). He has edited Edmund Spenser: The Shorter Poems for Penguin (1999). With Howard Erskine-Hill he co-edited Presenting Poetry: Composition, Publication, Reception (1995), and with David Womersley Literary Milieux: Essays in Text and Context presented to Howard Erskine-Hill.

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