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Shakespeare, Spenser, and the Crisis in Ireland
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Book description

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.


"In this insightful study Christopher Highley illuminates the complexities of the discourse on Ireland during the reign of Elizabeth.... especially valuable to scholars of early modern colonialism is his reminder that colonial analogies may serve not only to further an imperial project but also to question and challenge it." Shakespeare Quarterly

"Christopher Highley's erudite and scholarly new book, a welcome addition to Cambridge's exciting and innovative new Renaissance series. It will be of particular use to Spenser scholars for the obvious excellence of the comments on Spenser's work, but also for the measured comparisons made with Shakespeare's plays and the author's ability to compare Welsh and Irish material and so contextualize the debates surrounding attempts to unify the British Isles in the late sixteenth century. Highley has not only written a substantial monograph but he is also a generous enough scholar to make it easy for others to follow in his footsteps and explore his readings further." Andrew Hadfield, Spenser Newletter

"...the entire study is admirably erudite and clear...." Bibliotheque D'Humanisme

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