<i>Better a mischief than an inconvenience</i>: “The saiyng self” in Spenser's <i>View of the Present State of Ireland</i>

Judith H. Anderson

in Reading the Allegorical Intertext

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print May 2008 | ISBN: 9780823228478
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823241125 | DOI:
Better a mischief than an inconvenience: “The saiyng self” in Spenser's View of the Present State of Ireland

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The particular “saiying self” of Spenser, “Better a mischief than an inconvenience,” occurs strikingly twice in the first half of A View of the Present State of Ireland. This saying stands out in a modern setting because it is unfamiliar, but the formal and historical contexts in which it occurs in the View of the Present State of Ireland also draws attention. The saying was first spoken by Spenser's persona Irenius, then his other persona, Exodus, reiterated it to be noticed by the mnemonically-challenged modern readers. This saying also stands out as a prefabricated syntactical unit and it is further notable as an instance of the popular rhetorical figure paroemia. Irenius invokes the saying to start an argument about the English common law being “inconvenient” for Ireland.

Keywords: Ireland; saying; argument; English common law; Irenius; Exodus; Spenser; paroemia

Chapter.  5399 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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