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Spenser’s Dutch uncles: The family of love and the four translations of a theatre for worldlings

Mottram, Stewart

Authors



Contributors

Jose Maria Perez Fernandez
Editor

Edward Wilson-Lee
Editor

Abstract

© José María Pérez Fernández and Edward Wilson-Lee 2014. A Theatre for Worldlings is a milestone work in more ways than one. Commonly regarded as the first English emblem book, it is “always to be remembered as containing the first printed verse of Edmund Spenser.” Yet Spenser’s contribution to A Theatre has overshadowed critical interest in the remainder of the volume, with its seemingly eclectic collection of poems, prose commentary, and woodcut illustrations. This chapter responds by restoring Spenser’s verse translations to the commentary they were originally intended to illustrate, reading poems and prose together within the broader context of the community by whom, and for whom, A Theatre was first produced. A Theatre announces itself as a product of London’s Flemish community, and it is to Flemish exiles that Jan van der Noot addresses his lengthy prose commentary on Spenser’s translations, as his references to “our natiue cou[n]trey of low Germanie” make clear (sig. H2v). In this case study of a text produced by a collaborative community of poets, printers, illustrators, and translators, I explore a particularly fruitful instance of how the sixteenth-century book trade helped “translate” ideologies across texts and translations. A Theatre for Worldlings, printed in London by Henry Bynneman in 1569, was an English translation of a volume that had originally appeared in Dutch and French formats from the London press of John Day the previous year, and the volume would go on to appear in German translation in a Cologne edition of 1572. By reading the English Theatre alongside its companion translations, this chapter undertakes a comparative exploration of the four Theatre translations in relation to their investment in the mystical tea chings of the Family of Love, focusing on the emblematic language of the poems and illustrations, the theological content of the commentary, and the context of each volume’s production in the printing houses of London and Cologne. I then move in conclusion to suggest some of the ways these Familist resonances may have influenced Spenser’s later poetry, focusing on The Ruines of Time (1591), and exploring how far its treatment of ruin was shaped by van der Noot’s own response to this theme in the four Theatre volumes.

Publication Date 2014-12
Journal Translation and the book trade in early modern Europe
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Pages 164-184
Book Title Translation and the Book Trade in Early Modern Europe
ISBN 9781139942393
APA6 Citation Mottram, S. (2014). Spenser’s Dutch uncles: The family of love and the four translations of a theatre for worldlings. In J. Maria Perez Fernandez, & E. Wilson-Lee (Eds.), Translation and the Book Trade in Early Modern Europe, 164-184. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139942393.009
DOI https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139942393.009
Keywords Edmund Spenser, A theatre for worldlings
Publisher URL Full details of the book are available at http://www.cambridge.or...t=HB&isbn=9781107080041
Copyright Statement This version is free to view and download for personal use only. Not for re-distribution, re-sale or use in derivative works. © Cambridge University Press

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Copyright Statement
This version is free to view and download for personal use only. Not for re-distribution, re-sale or use in derivative works. © Cambridge University Press



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