Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


This study offers a revaluation of the Complaints volume. It proposes that Spenser's poems of 1591 are unified both generically and thematically. Chapter One reviews the arguments for accepting the Complaints as an authorized collection of Spenser's works and establishes that all the poems in the volume are complaints. Chapter Two surveys the critical background of the Complaints poems, bringing together material published from 1591 to the present date and providing an assessment of the various estimates of the poems. Chapters Three and Four consider the development of the complaint genre. Chapter Three looks specifically at the classical and Biblical origins of complaint and at the popular medieval forms of de casibus and de contemptu mundi complaint. Chapter Four considers innovations in both the English and French Renaissance complaints. Chapter Five then considers Spenser's applications of the various forms of the genre in his Complaints volume. Chapter Six concludes the discussion with a consideration of the theme of mutability which unites not only the Complaints poems but all of Spenser's canon.



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