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Spenserian satire

A tradition of indirection

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Rachel E. Hile

This book examines the satirical poetry of Edmund Spenser and argues for his importance as a model and influence for younger poets writing satires in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. The book focuses on reading satirical texts of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries in relation to one another, with specific attention to the role that Edmund Spenser plays in that literary subsystem. The book connects key Spenserian texts in The Shepheardes Calender and the Complaints volume with poems by a range of authors in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, including Joseph Hall, Thomas Nashe, Tailboys Dymoke, Thomas Middleton, and George Wither to advance the thesis that Spenser was seen by his contemporaries as highly relevant to satire in Elizabethan England. For scholars of satire, the book offers a fuller discussion and theorization of the type of satire that Spenser wrote, “indirect satire,” than has been provided elsewhere. A theory of indirect satire benefits not just Spenser studies, but satire studies as well. For scholars of English Renaissance satire in particular, who have tended to focus on the formal verse satires of the 1590s to the exclusion of attention to more indirect forms such as Spenser’s, this book is a corrective, an invitation to recognize the importance of a style of satire that has received little attention.

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Rachel E. Hile

punishment. In this chapter, after initial attention to the theoretical groundwork for thinking about the roles that Spenser played in his fellow writers’ imaginings of the English literary system near the turn of the seventeenth century, I will focus on two friends’ somewhat reductive treatments of Spenser in their own works. William Bedell’s simplistic and repetitive Spenserianism clarifies what tropes and images predictably called the concept “Spenser” to the minds of writers and readers in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, while Joseph Hall

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Rachel E. Hile

consider Spenser’s use of allegorical satire and allegory as satire in Daphnaïda, analyzing the ways that Spenser signals readers to interpret the poem satirically through playful use of allegory and metaphor. With Chapter 3, I move the discussion from Spenser to a wider circle of influence, starting with two somewhat reductive views from contemporaries of what Spenser “meant” in the literary system of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Two friends, Joseph Hall and William Bedell, wrote works that suggest an image of Spenser as an uncomplicated

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Martin MacGregor

. Beaton, the minister–physician from the Isle of Mull, was his chief Scottish informant.15 In Kintyre Lhwyd met Eoghan (Hugh) MacLean, schoolmaster at Kilchenzie, who between 1690 and 1698 wrote Gaelic manuscripts containing heroic and romantic tales, poetry and two metrical tracts.16 Rev. Raibeart (Robert) Kirk saw Bedell’s Gaelic Bible, as adapted to Scottish needs, through the press in 1689–90, and completed The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Faunes and Fairies in 1691, and a Gaelic vocabulary in 1702.17 Kirk was assisted with Bedell’s Bible by his friend, Rev. James

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After the Bishops’ Ban

Imitation of Spenserian satire

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Rachel E. Hile

”: Michael Drayton, William Browne, and George Wither. A poet who wished to write satirical verse in 1600 might rightly conclude from the named works in the Bishops’ Ban that formal verse satire was an unsafe mode for expressing satirical meanings. The additional knowledge that the still-living Queen Elizabeth or the stillpowerful Robert Cecil, son of Spenser’s enemy Lord Burghley, might continue to take exception to satirical beast fables certainly combined to create a chilling effect on the production of satirical poetry in the first years of the seventeenth century

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The pulpit and the pen

Clergy, orality and print in the Scottish Gaelic world

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Donald Meek

Classical tradition of both Ireland and Gaelic Scotland – the same tradition as that which had shaped Carswell’s translation of the Book of Common Order. The Classical Gaelic version of the New Testament, completed by William Ó Domhnaill, was published in 1602–3. The corresponding version of the Old Testament, translated by William Bedell, Bishop of Kilmore, with the assistance of Gaelic scribes of the traditional kind, was completed c. 1640, but not published until 1685.27 In the mid-seventeenth century the Synod of Argyll tried unsuccessfully to undertake a translation

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Rachel E. Hile

4 Spenserian “entry codes” to  ­indirect  satire In his own satirical poetry, Edmund Spenser criticized indirectly, requiring readers to interpret clues carefully to access satirical meanings. For some readers, such as Joseph Hall and William Bedell, Spenser’s reputation as a decorous, conservative poet seemed to obscure awareness of him as also demonstrating an interest in or affinity for satirical writing, as discussed in Chapter 3. This chapter offers a corrective in the form of “case studies” of three poets who were quite sensitively attuned to the potential