Spenser and Neo‐Latin Literature

Lee Piepho

in The Oxford Handbook of Edmund Spenser

Published in print October 2010 | ISBN: 9780199227365
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

 Spenser and Neo‐Latin Literature

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This article focuses on the influence of Neo-Latin texts on Spenser's works. While Spenser's debut as ‘Immerit ô’ was The Shepheardes Calender (1579) it is important to recognize that his other long poem printed around the same time — ‘Ad ornatissimum virum’ (1580) — was in Latin, not English. Spenser moved in a bilingual world, a world in which, partly because of him, the balance between English and Latin was shifting, but also one in which Latin as a living language put him in touch not only with the culture of ancient Rome but with recent Neo-Latin writers in Britain and Continental Europe. That one of his first poetical works was in Latin rather than English testifies to the fact that the literary milieu Spenser entered as a young man remained heavily Latinate. If he ultimately set out to use English to make a nation of his own, the books in his library and the poetry he published at the beginning of his literary career suggest that he also recognized the role Neo-Latin literature continued to play in British high culture.

Keywords: Latin; British high culture; poems; Ad ornatissimum virum

Article.  5872 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (1500 to 1800) ; Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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