The Shorter Poems (Penguin Classics) Paperback – 30 Sep 1999
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About the Author
Edmund Spenser (c.1552-1599) was educated in London and Cambridge and in 1580 moved to Ireland as secretary to the Lord Deputy. His poem, The Faerie Queene, was the first English epic.
Richard McCabe is a Fellow in English at Merton College Oxford and a lecturer at the University of Oxford. He has published widely on Renaissance Literature.
Edited by Richard A. McCabe
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Top Customer Reviews
The book itself is also very well bound and has high-quality pages. A similar collection of his works published by Norton has almost unusably thin pages, which was quite annoying when trying to flick through, especially when cross-referencing.
“The Shepheardes Calender” was Spenser's first original poetic work, published in 1579. In common with most modern editors of Spenser, but in contrast to most modern editors of other Elizabethan poets, Richard McCabe keeps his original spelling and resists the temptation to emend that title to “The Shepherd’s Calendar”. The reason is that Spenser, a lover of mediaeval literature, especially Chaucer, often wrote in a deliberately archaic style, using spellings and grammatical forms which were old-fashioned even by sixteenth century standards. The work contains allusions not only to Chaucer but also to other earlier writers such as Langland, Lydgate and John Skelton. A feature is the commentary ascribed to one "E.K”, probably an alias for Spenser himself. Among other things, “E.K.” provides translations for words which had already become obsolete by the 1570s.
Despite the title, the work is not primarily a work of “nature poetry”, nor is it a description of the working life of an agricultural labourer during the different seasons of the year. Spenser's model was Virgil's “Eclogues”, and he seems to have intended the poem as preparation for writing “The Faerie Queene”, in direct emulation of the Roman poet who had also begun his career by writing pastoral verse before progressing to the “Aeneid”. It may in turn have inspired “Arcadia” by Spenser’s friend and contemporary Sir Philip Sidney, which appeared the following year.Read more ›