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Bowers, Rick. “Harington’s Metamorphosis of Ajax and Spenser’s Faerie Queene.” Notes and Queries 62.1 (2015): 77-79.

This short essay draws attention to Sir John Harington’s referencing of The Faerie Queene in 1596 within his controversial Metamorphosis of Ajax in terms of provocative imitation and other ironic satirical effects. Previously unmentioned in critical work, Harington delivers an oddly complicated linguistic gag that parodies Spenser’s use of the extra-footed alexandrine line. He also with some irony praises the author of The Faerie Queene in relation to Sir John Spencer of Althorpe as “not the least honour of your honourable familie.” In both cases, in contrast to the remarkable achievement of The Faerie Queene, Harington asserts ironies for the purposes of quirky self-promotion. [RB]

DiPasquale, Theresa M. “Anti-Court Satire, Religious Polemic, and the Many Faces of Antichrist: An Intertextual Reading of Donne’s ‘Satyre 4’ and Spenser’s Faerie Queene.Studies in Philology 112.2 (2015): 264-302.

Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queene and John Donne’s “Satyre 4” are related in several ways; both works critique the vices of the Elizabethan court, both feature a putatively virtuous individual’s morally compromising sojourn at court, both explicitly address the didactic function of poetry, and both—according to Joseph Wybarne’s The New Age of Old Names (1609)—portray the Antichrist in terms that evoke Roman Catholic polemical writing. These points of intertextual correspondence invite a reading of Donne’s “Satyre 4” that explores the images, narrative details, and thematic emphases shared by Donne’s poem and specific episodes in Spenser’s allegory: Redcrosse’s battle with Errour and his visit to the House of Pride in book 1 and the defeat of Malengin in book 5. Wybarne’s commentary, which links Spenser’s and Donne’s works to the writings of the Counter-Reformation polemicist Fr. Nicholas Sander, helps to establish an early seventeenth-century reader’s perspective on these texts’ relationships to one another and facilitates new insights into Donne’s satirical agenda. [TD]

Hadfield, Andrew. “The Death of the Knight with the Scales and the Question of Justice in The Faerie Queene.” Essays in Criticism 65.1 (2015): 12-29. 

This essay argues that Spenser’s concern with justice in The Faerie Queene, Book V is more logical and coherent than has often been assumed. It is often alleged that Spenser endorses Artegall’s killing of the Giant with the Scales after their verbal joust in canto 2. But a reading of the iconography of the episode takes the reader in another direction, one that shows that justice cannot operate properly once its goddess, Astrea, leaves the world. Artegall has the sword of justice, Chrysaor, but in destroying rather than accommodating the scales of justice we are provided with a potent image of justice acting against itself because it is not controlled by a higher authority. Accordingly, Aretegall can only enforce a brutal type of justice, not a balanced one, something that the poet does not necessarily endorse. [AH]

Herron, Thomas. “New English Nation: Munster Politics, Virgilian Complaint, and Pastoral Empire in Spenser’s ‘Colin Clouts Come Home Againe’ (1595).” Eolas: Journal of the American Society for Irish Medieval Studies 8 (2015): 89-122.

This essay has two parts. The first discusses Spenser’s uses of the word “nation” in his pastoral poem “Colin Clouts Come Home Againe,” which is set in County Cork. It does so in the context of colonial politics, in particular the central adoration of the queen and the figurative writing of her name on the Irish landscape by Spenser’s alias, the shepherd Colin Clout. Colin’s phrases have legalisms familiar from property disputes on the Munster Plantation, which Spenser participated in as a member of an idealized New English “nation.” The second part offers a new reading of the poem’s allegorical “Bregog” digression in related terms: it should not be read as referring primarily to Sir Walter Raleigh’s scandals at court, as previously understood, but instead to property disputes between the New English Spenser and his Old English neighbor in Cork, Lord Roche, whose name is alluded to in the poem. The dispute between Spenser and Roche deeply resonates with property conflicts found in Virgil’s Eclogues, another pastoral poem in praise of an imperial monarch. [TH]

Mardock, James D. “The ‘Table’ of Belphoebe’s Forehead, Faerie Queene II.III.24.” Notes and Queries 62.1 (2015): 72-74.

Belphoebe’s introduction in Book II of The Faerie Queene is comprised of a lengthy blazon that includes a comparison of her forehead to a “table” on which Love might “engrave” his triumphs (II.iii.24). The standard reading has been to distinguish this “Love” from the “blinded god” of the previous canto, but this ignores the complicated perspectival irony in the passage and obscures the way in which it prefigures the dangerous ambiguity attending interpretations of Cupid in Book III. [JM]

Scheler, Drew J. “Equitable Poetics and the State of Conflict in Edmund Spenser’s Two Cantos of Mutabilitie.” Rhetorica: A Journal of the History of Rhetoric 32.4 (2014): 362-385.

This essay argues that Edmund Spenser’s legal poem, the Two Cantos of Mutabilitie, considers how civil conflicts implicitly generate a basis for their own evaluation and resolution. To illustrate this idea, Spenser draws from a tradition of rhetorical argumentation stretching from Aristotle and Cicero to Rudolph Agricola and Philip Sidney. This tradition emphasizes how fictions establish the shared questions that can create a deliberative context for equitable judgment when general law and particular case come into conflict. Dramatizing this rational process through an allegorical legal trial, Spenser illuminates how divergent judgments and actions become ethically legible to one another as parts of the same deliberative whole. [DS]

Serjeantson, Deirdre. “Milton and the Tradition of Protestant Petrarchism.” Review of English Studies 65.272 (2014): 831-852.

Scholarly accounts of Milton’s engagement with Petrarch often suggest a hostile reading of the Italian poet’s work. The Protestant ideal of Adam and Eve’s companionate marriage in Paradise Lost has been seen as a rebuke to the unfulfilled petrarchan lover and his chaste mistress; the seductive language of petrarchan pleading has been traced in Satan’s tempting speeches. In Of Reformation (1641), however, Milton invoked Petrarch as an authority in the Protestant cause. This paper seeks to reconstruct the alternative tradition of petrarchism which underlies Milton’s reference. It explores the international network of Protestant polemicists and writers among whom it originated, and looks at its influence on works in English, including Spenser’s earliest poems, which precede Of Reformation; it considers the bibliographical evidence for Milton’s reading of Petrarch; and it argues that the politicized and protestantized Petrarch provided an important model for Milton’s own religious sonnets. [DS]

Wadoski, Andrew. “Milton’s Spenser: Eden and the Work of Poetry.” Studies in English Literature 1500-1900 55.1 (2015): 175-196.

This essay reads Milton’s Eden as a critical appropriation of Spenser’s image of the mutable world. It argues that Edenic work epitomizes Milton’s engagement with Spenser’s poetry as a site of creative origins and reveals these poets’ common vision of poetry’s virtues as inseparable from individual experiences of freely interpreting images of creation. Linking Spenserian quest’s redemptive labor with the first parents’ work in Eden, it argues that Spenser bequeaths to Milton’s poetry a broadly georgic ethos in which virtue is discovered not in our encounters with transcendent forms but rather in our movements through the postlapsarian world. [AW]

Wadoski, Andrew. “Which Edition of Homer did Spenser Read?” Notes and Queries 62.1 (2015): 74-77.

While Edmund Spenser regarded himself as an heir of Homer, The Faerie Queene leaves few clues to his specific engagements with the Greek poet or to the editions of Homer that Spenser may have read. Based on his upholding of Agamemnon as as exemplar of princely virtue in the Letter of the Authors, this paper argues that Spenser had access to Jean de Sponde’s 1583 edition, a parallel column Greek and Latin text with commentary whose focus on Agamemnon’s leadership is unique among similar commentaries.  While the link between these texts is wholly circumstantial, de Sponde’s commentary, which was written while he was negotiating among the competing political claims of divergent Protestant theologies while managing his own relationship with Henri de Navarre, may shed important light on the ways Spenser engaged with the ancient world’s foundational poet in order to navigate the complex political and theological terrain of The Faerie Queene’s moral allegory. [AW]


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"Articles," Spenser Review 45.1.19 (Spring-Summer 2015). Accessed April 15th, 2024.
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