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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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Indirect satire

Theory and Spenserian practice

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Rachel E. Hile

1 Indirect satire: theory and Spenserian practice In Edmund Spenser’s Prosopopoia; or, Mother Hubberds Tale, a tonal shift characterizes the final episode, in which the villainous Fox and Ape, having wreaked havoc in the three estates as husbandmen, clerics, and courtiers, go even farther by usurping royal power. The self-conscious Chaucerianism of the first episodes—summarized by Kent van den Berg as “the recreative fiction that animals are like men”—gives way to a more fully developed, and more clearly satirical, fictional world in which “men are like animals

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Spenser’s satire of indirection

Affiliation, allusion, allegory

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Rachel E. Hile

2 Spenser’s satire of indirection: affiliation, allusion, allegory The previous chapter provided a preliminary analysis of how indirect satire works to create a sense of an allegorical connection to the real world and real situations and discussed how allusions, symbolism, and analogy prompted allegorical projections that inflected contemporaries’ understanding of the message of Mother Hubberds Tale, Spenser’s best-known satirical work. In this chapter, I will continue analyzing Spenserian indirection in satire, but with an additional concept in play by

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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

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Rachel E. Hile

5 Thomas Middleton’s satires before and  after the Bishops’ Ban Among the books burned by order of the Bishops’ Ban on June 4, 1599, was nineteen-year-old Thomas Middleton’s Micro-Cynicon: Sixe Snarling Satyres, a collection of verse satires. T.M. the young satirist would of course soon become Thomas Middleton the seasoned dramatist, and criticism of Middleton’s work has not surprisingly focused primarily on his more mature work for the theater. Nevertheless, early satires such as Micro-Cynicon and Father Hubburds Tales; or, The Ant and the Nightingale (1604

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Series:

Rachel E. Hile

and early 1600s, and so I leave aside an in-depth analysis of satire in The Faerie Queene to focus, as my subtitle indicates, on a tradition. My overall goal is to create a fuller and more nuanced view of Spenser’s influence on satirical poetry in England in the 1590s and the impact of Spenser’s role in the literary system on poets writing satire. Even though Spenser has never been thought of as primarily a satirist, his over- MUP_Hile_SpenserSatire_Printer.indd 64 14/10/2016 15:35 Spenser and the English literary system 65 whelming importance to poetry in

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After the Bishops’ Ban

Imitation of Spenserian satire

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Rachel E. Hile

6 After the Bishops’ Ban: imitation of Spenserian satire Spenser’s death in 1599, the promulgation of the Bishops’ Ban in 1599, and the death of Queen Elizabeth in 1603—each of these could be expected to affect the writing of poetry in England, with Spenser’s influence becoming modified by nostalgia, authors trying to interpret the text of the Bishops’ Ban to determine how to respond to its directive “That noe Satyres or Epigramms be printed hereafter” (qtd. in McCabe, “Elizabethan satire,” 188), and everyone watching to see what degree of oversight of the

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Rachel E. Hile

Conclusion In Chapter 1, I offered a contemporary theory of how indirect satire works, focusing on the social process of meaning-making required by this type of satirical work with reference to other recent theoretical works that emphasize the social functions of satire. To conclude, I would like to reverse my chronology to consider the theories and values underlying indirect forms of satire in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. In developing this argument, we cannot take satirical poets at their word regarding their intentions or methods

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Rachel E. Hile

Introduction We know that all texts are indeterminate, incomplete … but some are extra-indeterminate, written by design to be extra-incomplete, to require, more than other texts, that the reader transfer meaning from other texts and from other semiotic fields altogether in order to correctly interpret the meaning. This book focuses on one such type of text, what I call “indirect satire,” by which I mean satirical writing that the reader cannot understand as satire without this intersemiotic transfer of meaning into the textual interpretation. Sometimes, in the

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Mel Bunce

crises, they increasingly encounter media content that blurs the line between reality and fiction. This includes everything from rumours and exaggerations on social media, through to partisan journalism, satire and completely invented stories that are designed to look like real news articles. Although this media content varies enormously, it is often grouped together under nebulous and all-encompassing terms such as ‘fake news’, ‘disinformation’ or ‘post-truth’ media. Scholars have started to pay serious attention to the production and impact of all