David Wilson-Okamura, winner of the 2016 MacCaffrey Prize

The Spenser Review

2016 MacCaffrey Prize

The winner of the 2016 MacCaffrey Prize was David Wilson-Okamura, for Spenser’s International Style (Cambridge University Press, 2013). In the words of the selection committee:

“Spenser’s International Style ushers the reader into a virtual drawing room where the great literary stylists and theorists of style from a 1500-year span of European history are engaged in vigorous discussion on a range of formal matters. Cicero and Quintilian, Tasso and Du Bellay, Harvey and Harington are just a few of the more vocal guests in this lively parliament of style, and their discourse ranges from sound and ornament to rhythm and meter, from figures of speech to genre. Wilson-Okamura functions as universal translator, rendering intricate technical discussions from multiple centuries and languages into highly accessible—even colloquial—modern English prose. With polish and precision, Wilson-Okamura leads us through the major stylistic influences on Spenser, but, more significantly, through Spenser’s eclectic but original response to those influences: The book is about Spenser’s style, but is itself written with verve and in its chic casual style recalls the opinionated voices of critics such as C.S. Lewis. (“His prosody was no less bold than his politics: stanzas he managed in an English way, rhythm in a Tuscan way, rhyme in a French way… . his style was international but Spenser himself was always independent” [221].) No matter what a critic’s current theoretical interest may be—ecocriticism, feminism, queer studies—it is a book in which she will find important and always useful readings for the classroom.”