Friday, 30 September 2011

Spenser's E.K.

Spenser's Shepheard's Calendar comes ready supplied with scholia, supposedly written by one 'E.K.' This used to be critical debate about the identity of this individual, which is still not known for sure: ('In spite of the fact that E. K.'s initials are attached to the comments on the Shepheards Calender and that Webbe considered him a high authority in critical matters, his contemporaries have not told us who he was', says C R Baskerville). Some critics think him a pseudonym for Spenser himself (Raymond Jenkins, "Who is E. K.?" Shakespeare Association Bulletin for instance), though C S Lewis thinks this unlikely as 'E.K.' and Spenser profess very different tastes. Still, it's possible for an alter-ego to have alter-tastes, I'd say. Louise Schleiner ('Spenser's “E. K.” as Edmund Kent (Kenned/of Kent): Kyth (Couth), Kissed, and Kunning-Conning', English Literary Renaissance 20:3 (1990), 374–407) ingeniously interprets the letters. Here's a passing thought: might 'E.K.' mean what it says? That is, taking the 'e' as long, might it not be saying 'eke' (OED lists the following early spellings: ec, ek, eek heke. eke, eik, eake)? That, in other words, the poem was written by Spenser and the notes also?

Just a thought.

No comments: