Author

Caroline F. E. Spurgeon

Caroline F. E. Spurgeon books and biography

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Mysticism In English Literature


By Caroline F. E. Spurgeon
Essay

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Caroline Spurgeon

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Caroline Spurgeon (* 24 October 1869 in India, + 24 October 1942 in Tucson, Arizona) was educated at Cheltenham, Gloucestershire; Dresden, Germany; and King's College London and University College London. From May 1900 she lectured on English Literature in London. She became a member of the staff of Bedford College, London, in 1901. She was an expert on Geoffrey Chaucer and in 1911 wrote a thesis in Paris on Chaucer devant la critique, and in 1929 in London on 500 years of Chaucer criticism and allusion. In 1936 she settled in Tucson, Arizona, where she finally died.

Today Caroline Spurgeon is mainly famous for one book, the pioneer study on the use of images in William Shakespeare's Work, called Shakespeare's Imagery, and what it tells us from 1935. It has been reprinted several times. In it she analyses the different types of images and motifs that he uses in his plays.

Some examples may here suffice.

  • She finds sea images: e.g. "Sailing in this salt flood; the winds, the sighs ... will overset thy tempest-tossed body" (Romeo and Juliet)
  • clothing images: e.g. "Why do you dress me in borrowed robes" (Macbeth)
  • colour images: "this my hand will rather The multitudinous seas incarnadine, Making the green one red." (Macbeth)
  • gardening images: "Hang here like a fruit, my soul, till the tree die." (Cymbeline)
  • and many many more.

The study of imagery can, apart from helping to understand the meaning of the play, give some insight into the poet's mind, because it shows what ideas come to his mind when in need of poetic expression, thus giving some clues as to his background, his upbringing, his social position, and so on.

It can also often help to distinguish his style from that of other authors, and thus is a vital instrument in disproving for example the theory that Francis Bacon may be the author of Shakespeare's plays, since a statistical



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