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Spenser's Secret Career


  • 4 b/w illus.
  • Page extent: 184 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.283 kg


 (ISBN-13: 9780521030939)

Edmund Spenser (c. 1552–99) conducted two careers at once: a celebrated national poet, he also pursued a lifelong career as secretary to various political and ecclesiastical figures. Richard Rambuss's book explores the ways in which this latter career, usually allotted only a cursory mention in accounts of Spenser's professional and social ambitions, informed his poetic career. The study takes issue with prevailing historicist accounts which see Spenser's careerism as shaped entirely by service to the court and as focused on a single-minded pursuit of laureateship along a Virgilian career route from pastoral to epic. It presents an alternative picture, and argues that for Spenser the manipulation of secrets provided a strategy for self-promotion and a means of measuring his distance from royal and aristocratic power. Spenser's Secret Career throws light on Spenser and on ideas of gender, power and subjecthood in the Renaissance.

• Interesting study of a neglected aspect of a major poet • An exploration of the interplay of secrets and secrecy in Spenser's poetry • Throws light on conceptions of gender, power, and subjecthood in Renaissance culture


List of illustrations; Acknowledgements; List of abbreviations; Introduction; 1. Professional secrets; 2. The secretary's study: the secret designs of The Shepheardes Calender; 3. 'In sundrie hands': the 1590 Faerie Queene and Spenser's Complaints; 4. Secret sights, private parts: the 1596 Faerie Queene; Notes; List of works cited; Index.

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