The unity of Edmund Spenser's Complaints

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Roy, David Karl
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University College Cork
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Edmund Spenser's Complaints (1591) is a collection of nine poems; these poems are compartmentalized into four sections, each of which begins with its own frontispiece and contains a dedication to a lady. Complaints is an extremely problematic volume which prompts urgent questions, not hitherto adequately addressed, such as: How can Complaints be defined in terms of form, genre and structure? Is Complaints simply a collection of four separate pamphlets? Why does the volume not fit into any of the career trajectories proposed for Spenser? Why is fixing a date on the poems so difficult? Why is the authorship of the preface, entitled ‘The Printer the Gentle Reader’, so hard to define? Complaints has been regarded as a haphazard collection, thrown together by the publisher to capitalize on the success of the first part of The Faerie Queene (1590). The aims of this thesis are to address the above questions, while also arguing for the thematic, bibliographic, structural, numerological, cosmological and contextual unity found in the volume, and teasing out the implications of these various unities.
Edmund Spenser , Renaissance England , Complaints , English literature , Renaissance English poetry , Early modern poetry
Roy, D. K. 2017. The unity of Edmund Spenser's Complaints. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.