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Shakespeare, Spenser, and the Crisis in Ireland


  • 6 b/w illus.
  • Page extent: 264 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.4 kg


 (ISBN-13: 9780521030830)

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.

• A single author study of the subject • Looks at canonical - Shakespeare and Spenser - and non-canonical writing • Examines interaction between English Renaissance writing and empire


List of illustrations; Acknowledgements; Introduction: Elizabeth's other isle; 1. Spenser's Irish courts; 2. Reversing the conquest: deputies, rebels and Shakespeare's 2 Henry VI; 3. Ireland, Wales and the representation of England's borderlands; 4. The Tyrone rebellion and the gendering of colonial resistance in 1 Henry VI; 5. 'A softe kind of warre': Spenser and the female reformation of Ireland; 6. 'If the Cause be not good': Henry V and Essex's Irish campaign; Notes; List of works cited; Index.

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