Commendatory Verse and Authorship in the English Renaissance

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Commendatory verse – poetry written by one author specifically to commend the work of another – presents a window on English Renaissance literary culture as wide and clear as any yet found, a window through which very few scholars have looked. This study examines particularly the paratextual functions of commendatory poetry and the relationship of those functions to contemporary Renaissance conceptions of authorship.


“…commendatory verse is a neglected but interesting, often revealing phenomenon in English Renaissance literature. This study blocks out the genre’s major functions as it pertains to the book trade and relations between poets who wrote commendations, authors of the works so commended, the publishers and printers who set them forth, and the patrons to whom those works were dedicated. Chandler’s study sets the stage for further investigation of the genre including the ways in which commendatory verse reveals connections between specific writers and how it reflects the development of English meter and stanza forms during this period of explosive growth and technical experimentation.” – Steven W. May, Georgetown College

Table of Contents

Table of contents:
Preface by Gary Taylor
1. Presenting the Book
2. Presenting the Writer
3. Presenting the Self
4. Presenting Art
5. Defining Authorship
6. Creating “William Shakespeare”
Appendix A: Works with Commendatory Poems by Ben Jonson
Appendix B: Renaissance Drama Printed with Commendatory Verse
Bibliography; Index

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