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The Oxford History of Classical Reception in English LiteratureVolume 1: 800–1558$
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Rita Copeland

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199587230

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199587230.001.0001

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The Aeneid Translations of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey

The Aeneid Translations of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey

The Exiled Reader’s Presence

(p.601) Chapter 28 The Aeneid Translations of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey
The Oxford History of Classical Reception in English Literature

James Simpson

Oxford University Press

A fundamental difference between the late medieval and the sixteenth-century humanist, philological translations of Virgil’s Aeneid consists of how the translator figures, or does not figure, as reader, in the newly produced text. The medieval reception of Virgil explicitly recognizes its own historicity in the process of transmission; the humanist, philological reception would efface that historicity. Comparison of four late medieval/early modern translators of Virgil substantiates this argument: Chaucer, Caxton, Douglas, and Henry Howard Earl of Surrey. Surrey’s effacement is registered in poetic form, in his innovative adoption of blank verse, and his exploitation of both syntax and perspective. Even as he effaces himself, however, the soon-to-be ruined Surrey underlines the new, imperial disciplines of poetic making.

Keywords:   Virgil, Chaucer, Caxton, Douglas, Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, blank verse, poetic exile

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