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Spenser's Life and the Subject of Biography

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On the 400th anniversary of The Faerie Queene, this book challenges the received tradition of Spenser's biography. The first "life" of Edmund Spenser (c. 1552-99) was written by the poet himself, in allegorical fictions of poetic ambition, envy, and anxiety. Over succeeding centuries, readers have tried to revise and elaborate this life with reference to a handful of surviving records and a wealth of dubiously pertinent historical fact and gossip. The nine essays in this volume examine the history of Spenser biography and suggest strategies for reinterpreting it to an audience newly sensitive to problems of artistic self-presentation.

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