Synopses & Reviews
In the sixty years since the publication of the original Oxford Book of Sixteenth-Century Verse, a revolution in literary taste has taken place. We now know that Elizabethan literature contained much more than dainty pastorals and lovely sonnets, and that in fact many poetic traditions flourished within the sixteenth century. Now, Emrys Jones has brought together a definitive collection of verse which truly captures the diversity of this period. By no means have the classics of Elizabethan literature been replaced--there are ample selections from Spenser's Faerie Queene, from Shakespeare's sonnets and plays (including Ariel's song from The Tempest, and from John Donne (who actually produced many poems in the sixteenth century, although he has previously been thought of only as a poet of the next century). But alongside these well-known works, Jones has placed a vast array of other significant poems--from the early part of the century (when poets such as John Skelton still harkened back to Chaucer and feudal times) to the great Elizabethan period. The New Oxford Book of Sixteenth-Century Verse (with its engaging and informative introduction, and its copious footnotes which gloss unfamiliar words) conveys in unparalleled style all the richness of what is arguably the greatest century of English literature.
The sixteenth century has long been acknowledged the "Golden Age" of English verse--with such names as Shakespeare, Donne, and Spenser to its credit it could hardly be otherwise. Yet this anthology, which includes both undisputed masterpieces and achievements in hitherto neglected fields, is the first to reveal the full range and diversity of the century's poetic riches. What emerges is the most complete picture available of the poetic vitality of the sixteenth century.
About the Author
Emrys Jones is Goldsmiths' Professor of English Literature at the University of Oxford, and a Fellow of New College. His publications include 'Scenic Form in Shakespeare' (1971) and 'The Origins of Shakespeare' (1977).