This essay pays long overdue attention to E.K's glosses of native English words in Edmund Spenser's The Shepheardes Calender (1579). Spenser's practice of using native English words is indebted to the emerging discipline of Anglo-Saxon studies, especially to the methodology of Archbishop Matthew Parker and his scholars, who sought precedents in Anglo-Saxon legal and ecclesiastical sources that would support their progressive agenda to return to the model of the church in the English past rather than seek any new reformation of the contemporary church. Spenser in his poem seeks to show the interrelationship between doctrinal innovation and tradition through an allegorical use of the English language itself. By revealing the strange familiarity existing between Old English and the vernacular that E.K. calls the “mother tonge,” Spenser creates a rhetoric of linguistic estrangement in the Calender. He uses this unfamiliar history to satirical effect in his ecclesiastical eclogues in order to express veiled criticism of the Elizabethan Church.
Hannah Crawforth; Strangers to the Mother Tongue: Spenser's Shepheardes Calender and Early Anglo-Saxon Studies. Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 1 May 2011; 41 (2): 293–316. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10829636-1218322
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