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The Penguin Book of Renaissance Verse: 1509-1659 Paperback – Sep 1 1993


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 976 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reprint edition (Sept. 1 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014042346X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140423464
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 4.3 x 19.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 662 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,044,875 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

About the Author

David Norbrook is Fellow and Tutor in English at Magdalen College, Oxford and Lecturer in English at the University of Oxford. He is the author of Poetry and Politics in the English Renaissance (Routledge, 1984). H. R. Woudhuysen is a lecturer in the Department of English at University College London. He has edited Samuel Johnson on Shakespeare for the New Penguin Shakespeare Library.


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Format: Paperback
I was assigned this book in an English Renaissance literature class. This collection provides a fascinating insight into the English Renaissance. There are selections by the normal poets: Shakespeare, Spenser, etc. There are also selections by female poets, including Elizabeth I. I learned so much from this book in terms of literature, culture, and life. If you are interested in this time period, or in the British Isles, this book is essential!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 6 reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
A book for class I would have read for leisure May 25 2001
By JET - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was assigned this book in an English Renaissance literature class. This collection provides a fascinating insight into the English Renaissance. There are selections by the normal poets: Shakespeare, Spenser, etc. There are also selections by female poets, including Elizabeth I. I learned so much from this book in terms of literature, culture, and life. If you are interested in this time period, or in the British Isles, this book is essential!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
good selection, poor organization Sept. 8 2009
By winnik - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I liked the selection of poetry in this collection, but I don't like how the poems are organized by theme rather than author. Many of the poems, of course, engage multiple themes, so the organization system is really a bit reductive and, for that matter, scattered.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
challenging, but great May 9 2011
By Charles Alexander - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is the best anthology I know of the period, with other contenders out of print (unless there are new ones I don't know about). The most challenging thing is probably that the poems are left, as much as possible, in their original language, spelling, etc. But there are things to like about that, too, i.e. that, in a period when such things as spelling had not been regularized, there are tools a poet might have that differ from what one has in a language that is more settled. I.e. with what a modern poet has called "the Elizabethan care for the sound of syllables," how one might develop near rhymes and sight rhymes (and the bulk of poetry of this period is rhyming poetry) is multiplied.

One true gem in this anthology, not found in all, is Sir Walter Ralegh's "The 21th: and last booke of the Ocean to Scinthia." I think this is one of the great poems of the period, yet, because it was discovered somewhat more recently, it's not yet nearly as well know as it should be.

I understand one reviewer's concern that perhaps an organization by author might have been easier to fathom, but the organization by theme makes sense to me, too, and they are the key themes of the period, and no matter, the contents and indexing are so good that it is easy to find any poem in the book for whatever reason one wants to read it. I've been reading in and through and around the book for a year now, and I love it.
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Marvel-ously Donne! June 29 2012
By Divine Goddess - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book arrived in excellent shape and only gently used (I'll feel less inclined to feel bad if I leave it open). Thank you!
7 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Editor Norbrook Helps Us See That Shakspere Did Not Write Shake-Speare Aug. 16 2015
By Dr. Richard M. Waugaman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This splendid edition offers a salutary corrective to the false view of the English literary Renaissance we see in Shakespeare scholarship. Why would this be? Because Shakespeare scholars must blind themselves to important truths about the English Renaissance in order to prop up their implausible theory that the semi-literate Stratford businessman William Shakspere wrote the Shake-speare canon.

So let me highlight a few of the ways in which this anthology corrects some systematic distortions imposed by traditional Shakespeareans. The Preface and Introduction alone are worth the price of the book. They are written by Oxford’s David Norbrook (and are drawn from his 1984 book Poetry and Politics in the English Renaissance). Might the author of the works of Shake-speare have used a pen name because he was an aristocrat? No, say the Shakespeareans—they claim the alleged “stigma of print” is a myth. Norbrook, however, writes that “Many leading poets in the period…circulated their verse almost entirely in manuscript. Print still had to endure a social stigma in a society strongly marked by an aristocratic disdain for commerce.”

Shakespeareans deny that the Sonnets have anything to do with the poet himself. He might have been writing poems for a bisexual patron. Norbrook tells us that “the Renaissance is…rich in a poetry of personal address…Renaissance poets were distinguished from their predecessors by a heightened awareness of subjectivity and individuality.” Further, “the sonnet was a particularly sensitive instrument for exploring personal experience in a society which still disapproved of too much individualism, and sonnets must have seemed at times as raw and personal as the work of modern ‘confessional poets.’”

Norbrook realizes that Shakespeare is showing undeniable sexual interest in the Fair Youth in Sonnet 20, in the very lines that homophobic readers interpret as reassuringly heterosexual: “one thing to my purpose nothing” in the Fair Youth’s sexual anatomy “is probably reinforced by a play on ‘nothing’ as ‘female genitals’ “ [i.e., the poet is alluding to using the Fair Youth as a “bottom”].

Several of Edward de Vere’s early signed poems are in the many editions of the Elizabethan anthology of song lyrics, The Paradise of Dainty Devises. De Vere, Earl of Oxford (1550-1604) was described as having a professional level of musical accomplishment. How is that relevant, you ask? Because Renaissance poets “had the visionary aim of making English words dance in a lost harmony.” Words could create their own music, as “The pioneers of Renaissance opera and song were trying to regain a pristine unity of words and music.”

“[Philip] Sidney was excited by the prospect that scholars were at last discovering the secret of the metrical basis of the Hebrew Psalms after centuries of neglect.” Shakespeareans acknowledge that the Bible is one of Shakespeare’s primary literary sources, echoed hundreds of times in his works. But they failed to identify the primary translation of the Psalms that most influenced him. De Vere’s “manicules” and other annotations in his Whole Book of Psalms led to the discovery that this Elizabethan “hymnal” (with printed music) is a previously unrecognized source for many passages in Shakespeare.

Shakespeareans base their absolute certainty that “Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare” partly on Ben Jonson’s prefatory material to the 1623 First Folio of Shakespeare’s plays. But Norbrook joins Jonson scholars who freely acknowledge that “honest Ben” was capable of writing with “baffling obliqueness” [as when he spelled the pen name as “Shake-Speare,” a form he used exclusively for invented names in his own 1616 Folio of plays and poems].

Norbrook’s commitment to scholarly integrity stands as a rebuke to the special pleading, cherry-picking of evidence, and circular reasoning that lie at the rotten core of the Stratfordian authorship theory.


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