The influence of Edmund Spenser across two and a half centuries as traced through 25000 different texts
May 27, 2009 8:54 PM   Subscribe

Spenser and the Tradition: English Poetry 1579-1830 is a mammoth database of English poetry and other writings that traces the influence of the great 16th-Century poet Edmund Spenser on English poetry across 250 years. There are roughly 25000 different texts on the site, over 6000 poems from famous classics to obscure ephemera, and further thousands of biographies and commentaries. Since it would take years to read all the material I am happy to say that there is a guide to navigating the database, an overview of its contents, a statistical summary and an essay on tradition and innovation. The immense database, which started life as a pile of index cards, was compiled largely by Virginia Tech Professor David Hill Radcliffe over the course of 17 years.
posted by Kattullus (11 comments total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
I am literally at a loss for words when I try to explain how wonderful I think this site is. David Hill Radcliffe is now one of my personal heroes.
posted by Kattullus at 8:56 PM on May 27, 2009

Rad. Isn't this just exactly the sort of thing that the internet was made for?
posted by flotson at 9:10 PM on May 27, 2009

A massive reference. Thanks Katullus.
posted by Cranberry at 10:30 PM on May 27, 2009

Oh wow, this is amazing. I love me some Spenser. Thank you for linking to this.
posted by painquale at 10:31 PM on May 27, 2009

Calm was the Day, and through the trembling Air
Sweet-breathing Zephyrus did softly play
A gentle Spirit, that lightly did allay
Hot Titan's Beams, which then did glister fair

Flagged for linking to a porn site.
posted by twoleftfeet at 12:07 AM on May 28, 2009

If I could favorite this 100 times, I would.
posted by jquinby at 12:30 AM on May 28, 2009


Aha! Quoting Spenser again! His influence has indeed been profound. I believe his first recorded use of that particular descriptor was in 1590, in the following passage from "Faerie Queene. Book I. Canto IV."

Young Knight, whatever that dost Arms profess,
And thro long Labours huntest after Fame,
Beware of Fraud, beware of Fickleness,
In Choice and Change of thy dear rad Dame.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:04 AM on May 28, 2009

O, mourn late our Image Tag, for to make a Spenser Joke.

This is awesome, Kattullus. The "About the Project page" ("Confessions of a Digital Antiquary") is the most helpful thing I've read since The Scholar Adventurers.
posted by steef at 5:47 AM on May 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

Awesome - thank you SO MUCH for this link.
posted by Tena at 6:45 AM on May 28, 2009

To give but one example of how amazing this database is, here's Joseph Trapp, a figure that's been mentioned a bit in the media recently as he was the first Oxford Professor of Poetry, but who otherwise has faded from cultural memory. The database includes 9 different biographies, a Spenserian ode, 15 commentaries on him and two of his comments on Spenser. And that's just one, fairly minor poet. The wealth of material here is stupendous. I wish that more databases like this existed. It makes me want to write scholarly work on Edmund Spenser just so that I can use it.
posted by Kattullus at 8:29 AM on May 28, 2009

*swoons* Thank you.
posted by jokeefe at 9:16 AM on May 28, 2009

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