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Spenser and Italian Literature

Lawrence, Jason



Richard A. McCabe


This article focuses on Spenser's relationship with Italian literature. Spenser's profound relationship with Italian literature is manifest from his earliest printed poetry, even if initially his engagement with it seems to have been mediated through French verse. The Epigrams printed in Van der Noot's collection in 1569 are a close rendition of Clément Marot's Le Chant des visions de Petrarque (1533), the French poet's translation of Petrarch's canzone 'Standomi un giorno solo a la fenestra'. Spenser's original English version follows Marot rather than Petrarch directly, suggesting that he was unable to read Italian when he first worked on the translation, presumably as a pupil at the Merchant Taylors' School before he went up to Pembroke Hall in 1569. This raises important questions about when (and how) Spenser learnt the Italian language, and the subsequent depth of his knowledge of Italian literature, as evidenced in much of his later work.


Lawrence, J. (2010). Spenser and Italian Literature. In R. A. McCabe (Ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Edmund Spenser (602-619). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Online Publication Date Sep 18, 2012
Publication Date 2010-10
Deposit Date Dec 19, 2014
Journal The Oxford handbook of Edmund Spenser
Publisher Oxford University Press
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Pages 602-619
Book Title The Oxford Handbook of Edmund Spenser
Chapter Number 33
ISBN 9780198709671; 9780199227365
Keywords REF 2014 submission; Italian language; Poetry; Italian literature; Clément Marot
Public URL