His entry begins:
I like to make a clear distinction between books that I read for work – where I try to be as systematic as possible – and pleasure, where I read as wide and random a mixture as I can manage. I’ve been working on English perceptions of Rome and I found David Karmon’s The Ruin of the Eternal City: Antiquity and Preservation in Renaissance Rome (2011) a fascinating and extremely useful account of Renaissance Rome’s dilemma about what to do with its recent past. Charles Nicholl’s Traces Remain (2013) collects the writer’s essays and reviews over the last twenty-five years. Not only does it contain a lively and diverse range of reflections on how the past is preserved, from the last sad journey of the seventeenth-century travel writer, Thomas Coryat to a new candidate for Jack the Ripper, but it...[read on]About Edmund Spenser: A Life, from the publisher:
Edmund Spenser's innovative poetic works have a central place in the canon of English literature. Yet he is remembered as a morally flawed, self-interested sycophant; complicit in England's ruthless colonisation of Ireland; in Karl Marx's words, 'Elizabeth's arse-kissing poet'-- a man on the make who aspired to be at court and who was prepared to exploit the Irish to get what he wanted.Learn more about Edmund Spenser: A Life at the Oxford University Press website.
In his vibrant and vivid book, the first biography of the poet for 60 years, Andrew Hadfield finds a more complex and subtle Spenser. How did a man who seemed destined to become a priest or a don become embroiled in politics? If he was intent on social climbing, why was he so astonishingly rude to the good and the great Lord Burghley, the earl of Leicester, Sir Walter Ralegh, Elizabeth I and James VI? Why was he more at home with 'the middling sort' -- writers, publishers and printers, bureaucrats, soldiers, academics, secretaries, and clergymen -- than with the mighty and the powerful? How did the appalling slaughter he witnessed in Ireland impact on his imaginative powers? How did his marriage and family life shape his work?
Spenser's brilliant writing has always challenged our preconceptions. So too, Hadfield shows, does the contradictory relationship between his between life and his art.
My Book, The Movie: Edmund Spenser: A Life.
Writers Read: Andrew Hadfield.