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The Poetics of Piracy

Emulating Spain in English Literature

By Barbara Fuchs

Publication Year: 2013

With its dominance as a European power and the explosion of its prose and dramatic writing, Spain provided an irresistible literary source for English writers of the early modern period. But the deep and escalating political rivalry between the two nations led English writers to negotiate, disavow, or attempt to resolve their fascination with Spain and their debt to Spanish sources. Amid thorny issues of translation and appropriation, imperial competition, the rise of commercial authorship, and anxieties about authenticity, Barbara Fuchs traces how Spanish material was transmitted into English writing, entangling English literature in questions of national and religious identity, and how piracy came to be a central textual metaphor, with appropriations from Spain triumphantly reimagined as heroic looting.

From the time of the attempted invasion by the Spanish Armada of the 1580s, through the rise of anti-Spanish rhetoric of the 1620s, The Poetics of Piracy charts this connection through works by Ben Jonson, William Shakespeare, Francis Beaumont, John Fletcher, and Thomas Middleton. Fuchs examines how their writing, particularly for the stage, recasts a reliance on Spanish material by constructing narratives of militaristic, forcible use. She considers how Jacobean dramatists complicated the texts of their Spanish contemporaries by putting them to anti-Spanish purposes, and she traces the place of Cervantes's Don Quixote in Beaumont's The Knight of the Burning Pestle and Shakespeare's late, lost play Cardenio. English literature was deeply transnational, even in the period most closely associated with the birth of a national literature.

Recovering the profound influence of Spain on Renaissance English letters, The Poetics of Piracy paints a sophisticated picture of how nations can serve, at once, as rivals and resources.

Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press

Series: Haney Foundation Series


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pp. 1-3

Title Page

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pp. 4-4

Copyright Page

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pp. 5-5

Dedication Page

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pp. 6-7

Table of Contents

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pp. 8-11

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pp. 1-12

Imagine for a moment that we found, in some dusty attic, the late, lost play Cardenio by William Shakespeare and John Fletcher, based on the unhinged lover-turned-wild-man...

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Chapter 1: Forcible Translation

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pp. 13-38

In the eventful century after humanist Antonio Nebrija’s Spanish Gramática (1492) famously identified language as the companion of empire, vernacular languages became...

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Chapter 2: Knights and Merchants

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pp. 39-54

The early years of James’s reign provided a bonanza of Spanish materials for English readers. The end of the protracted hostilities in 1604 and the mutual peace embassies from Spain to England...

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Chapter 3: Plotting Spaniards, Spanish Plots

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pp. 55-78

Even at the moments of England’s closest political rapprochement with Spain and greatest cultural fascination with its literature, taking from Spain was always fraught...

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Chapter 4: Cardenio Lost and Found

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pp. 79-97

With the 400th anniversary of Don Quijote in 2005 and of the 1612 Shelton translation in 2012, Shakespeare...

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Chapter 5: Cardenios for Our Time

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pp. 98-130

As the reception of Double Falshood both in the eighteenth century and in our own time demonstrates, the critical anxiety about finding the hand of “the Bard” in the play has largely...


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pp. 131-160


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pp. 161-174


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pp. 175-184

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pp. 185-186

I have been fortunate to have found a series of wonderful interlocutors in the study of Spain and England, from Roland Greene, Patricia Parker, and Stephen Orgel, who fostered my earliest...

E-ISBN-13: 9780812207767
E-ISBN-10: 0812207769
Print-ISBN-13: 9780812244755
Print-ISBN-10: 0812244753

Page Count: 200
Illustrations: 10 illus.
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Haney Foundation Series
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OCLC Number: 859161055
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The Poetics of Piracy

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Subject Headings

  • English literature -- Spanish influences.
  • English literature -- Early modern, 1500-1700 -- History and criticism.
  • Imitation in literature.
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