The Poetic Style Needed

Carl Hare Author Interview

What I liked about Spenser was the way in which you fused history with fantasy. What research did you undertake to ensure the historical references were accurate?

I did a huge amount of research, because I had to know as much as possible about the Elizabethan period in England, Ireland, and France, as well as the historical figures involved. And remember, the work has taken twenty-seven years to finish. When I started, there was no internet; I had to do research in university libraries, not through Google. I have seven huge binders of material xeroxed and carefully tagged. As well, in the actual creation I am now on my tenth workbook, apart from the digital files.

Actual things were relatively simple—to find how stained glass windows were constructed and appeared in Spenser’s time; to understand what a sailing vessel was like, its sails, its crew, its structure; to learn about the Irish sea and the ports; to become absorbed in what the buildings and costumes were; Christmas customs; medicine; the countries. There is very little knowledge of Spenser himself, so that I made surmises based on what was known; my Spenser is probably more fictional than real, but the conclusions I made were based on facts as well. I did, of course, create the final book of The Fairie Queene, the windows described actually based on Jung’s archetypal figures (a small license I gave myself). The Christmas play is my adaptation of what could have happened then (minus the satire of the pope, of course). The massacre of the Spaniards is directly taken from the report made of the affair. And the Latin phrases are actually the ones that British schoolboys used to have to learn, which is deliberate. Ben Jonson criticized Shakespeare for knowing “no Latin and less Greek”; I portray him in the scene as still learning Latin, much to the amusement of Spenser and Bacon, who wrote well in the language and who make quiet jokes between them in their responses.

As for the fantasy, you will have to wait for Book Three to get the whole story, when the three thousand years find their conclusion.

The book is written in Spenserian stanzas. Was this a challenge for you or do you prefer this style of writing?

Actually, the whole trilogy is a challenge, because I take the poetic style of the time and adapt it slightly to modern times. For example, Odysseus is deliberately written in the style that most translations have been seen over the past decades; Spenser is written in his form, but where he usually end-stops a stanza, I can run the idea without strain into the following stanza, so that the dialogue and description can be closer to us. I have deliberately left the numbering of the stanzas as he did. As well, in the agonizing memories of Spenser about the death of his son I have strained the stanzas to the limit to force the cries that he made stand out. If you want to know how that sounds, you may soon be able to hear them in the audio book that hopefully will appear in the near future. As for Archer, the styles range from the Romantic Period until today. Thus, you will find that even the verse ranges over the three thousand years.

I understand that you have been a professor, actor, director, playwright, and poet. How has your experience in these fields helped you write your books in the On the River of Time series?

A good question. All of these have helped me. First of all, I have an English Honours degree in which I had to take a comprehensive exam on all of English literature up to 1950 (excluding, of course at that time, all Canadian and American literature). I have taught English courses, seminar courses in Ibsen and Theatre Aesthetics, a first-year philosophy course, and, of course, courses in acting for professional and amateur actors. As an actor I have to learn, comprehend, and explore a character deeply, both in mind and body. As a director I have to know the world in which the play takes place; what the incidents expose of the characters; the structure of the action of the play and its conclusion; the period in which it takes place; and how to bring the actor to fulfill the demands of the character. As a playwright I have to conceive of the characters and their journey; write the scenes that are important for the revelations of the play; find the essence of each character’s thoughts, speech and action; place all this in an appropriate setting for the theatre and the audience; and as a poet sense the music of our language, the evocation of an experience, the poetic style needed, the deep influence of an idea, and the urge which forces me to express it.

All of these things in my background have enriched my vision and whatever skill I have. They have allowed me to find a way through to express through three thousand years what we all still experience, give into, or struggle with, in our lives

Book three in your series follows Archer, the fictional renegade actor/director in present-day Canada. When will that book be available and what can readers expect in the story?

I am almost finished writing it. My editor, with whom I have worked fifty years, is brilliant and patient and rigorous, keeping me always on the right track. We are in the twelfth draft of the work at the moment, but it should be the second-last. For reasons I won’t go into, it will probably come out next year.

What can you expect? A modern actor/director who is charismatic and searching, who has spent his life exploring and touring his events. The book is divided into three “Acts” (like chapters, but this is, after all, about theatre); Act One deals with his tour of King Lear in mask and his research on an event that will deal with all of Canadian history as far back as it goes; Act Two deals with the creation and tour of the event; Act Three deals with the company invited to Ireland to play the event in its Festivals, what happens there, and the repercussions later in Canada. You may suspect that I have some knowledge of all this; you might want to look at my website: http://www.carlhare.ca

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Spenser portrays the last four turbulent months in the life of poet Edmund Spenser, faithful servant of Queen Elizabeth I of England for whom he wrote The Fairie Queene. Written in Spenserian stanza to evoke the Elizabethan period and the poet’s own style, Spenser is Book Two of the epic trilogy On the River of Time, which examines three figures – one mythical, one historical, and one fictional – from different time periods spanning almost three thousand years: Odysseus in ancient Greece; Spenser, the poet, in Ireland, and Archer, a fictional renegade actor/director, in present-day Canada.

About Literary Titan

The Literary Titan is an organization of professional editors, writers, and professors that have a passion for the written word. We review fiction and non-fiction books in many different genres, as well as conduct author interviews, and recognize talented authors with our Literary Book Award. We are privileged to work with so many creative authors around the globe.

Posted on July 19, 2020, in Interviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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