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Spenser Studies 2017-18

Spenser Studies Annual: A Renaissance Poetry Annual. Volume 31-32, 2017/2018. General Editors: Anne Lake Prescott, William A. Oram, Andrew Escobedo, Susannah Brietz Monta. The University of Chicago Press Journals.

Pugh, Syrithe. “Orpheus and Eurydice in the Middle Books of The Faerie Queene.Spenser Studies, vol. 31-32, no. xxxi, 2017/2018, pp. 1-41.

This article addresses Spenser’s curious preference for the lesser-known Greek version of the Orpheus myth, in which Orpheus successfully recovers Eurydice from the Underworld, over the tragic version promulgated by Virgil’s Georgics, exploring its significance in the middle books of The Faerie Queene and its implications for Spenser’s conception of his role as an “Orphic” poet. The rescue of Amoret from the House of Busirane and that of Florimel from Proteus’s cave both rework Eurydice’s release. Spenser’s chief concern is to differentiate between true and false love, which he identifies respectively with sympathy and with rapacious desire. Britomart’s capacity for sympathy and respect for Amoret’s freedom as a desiring subject enable her to perform the role of the liberating Orpheus, while Scudamour’s actions at the Temple of Venus are implicitly paralleled with Aristaeus’s attempted rape in Virgil’s account. In Book IV, Florimel’s lament brings out the connection of this sympathetic form of love with Orpheus’s traditional powers of poetic pathos, while the Orphic poet’s ability to promote a similar equity and “franchise” on the social and political level are evoked through allusion to Orpheus’s quelling of the Argonauts’s strife. Where Virgil’s fourth Georgic opposes political necessity to love and art, Spenser challenges this dichotomy. In assuming the role of the “Brittayne Orpheus,” and reasserting Orpheus’s victory over death, he dedicates his poetic powers to love conceived not as destructive madness but as the civilizing force on which society depends.

Pietras, Brian. “Erasing Evander’s Mother: Spenser, Virgil, and the Dangers of Vatic Authorship.” Spenser Studies, vol. 31-32, no. xxxi, 2017/2018, pp. 43-69.

Scholars have long argued that, in The Shepheardes Calender, Spenser lays audacious claim to the exalted Virgilian role of the poet-prophet, or vates. But these critics have overlooked a problem at the heart of vatic authorship, which is that Virgil’s own texts portray the vatic role as the result of external coercion—a coercion that has its most vivid depiction in the Aeneid, where divine inspiration becomes associated with rape, and the vates with violated female figures (including Cassandra and the Sibyl of Cumae). This essay argues that the Calender recognizes the unsettling classical links between the divinely inspired poet and the violated woman, and sets out to renovate the role for England’s “new Poete”: to transform the vates from helpless victim of the gods to potent ravisher of men’s minds. Ultimately, to accomplish this task, the Calender must suppress the vatic role’s vexed associations not only with women, but also with ancient female author-figures.

Chovanec, Kevin. “The Borders of Fairyland: Transnational Readings of Spenser in Stuart England.” Spenser Studies, vol. 31-32, no. xxxi, 2017/2018, pp. 71-96.

In this article, I discuss Thomas Dekker’s The Whore of Babylon and Ralph Knevet’s A Supplement of the Faerie Queen as readings of Spenser’s fairyland. Both writers appropriate Spenser’s fairy frame, but they then complicate the traditional relationship between England and fairyland. While the play and the poem are patriotic works, the allegorical “fairy” identity in both is aligned with Protestantism rather than—or sometimes in addition to—Englishness. This suggests, I argue, that English identity in the Stuart period was more open and incorporative than is generally admitted, capable of assuming Dutch, German, and even Swedish Protestants into the national—or “fairy”—community; and “foreigness” likewise remained open to negotiation. As these writers were near to Spenser both in time and in ideology, their seemingly radical reinterpretations of fairyland might also challenge our understanding of The Faerie Queene as an exclusively national work and open the poem itself to new transnational readings.

Borris, Kenneth. “(H)eroic Disarmament: Spenser’s Unarmed Cupid, Platonized Heroism, and The Faerie Queene’s Poetics.” Spenser Studies, vol. 31-32, no. xxxi, pp. 97-135.

In The Faerie Queene’s first proem, which introduces the whole text as well as Book I, Spenser specifically invokes the creative assistance of unarmed Cupid, who also appears in the poem thereafter. Spenserians have much debated whether his disarmament means anything, and whether Platonism has any relevance. Yet previous studies have overlooked formerly well-known literary, iconographical, and hermeneutic precedents that show he thus signifies the heavenly love of virtue or amor virtutis in a Platonizing way. And they have missed the poet’s association of Cupid in this particular aspect with the Ideas. Whereas the most recent biography of Spenser calls his explicitly Christian Platonist Fowre Hymnes “anomalous” in his canon, his representation of unarmed Cupid in The Faerie Queene, we find, anticipates various features of them. As Plato had derived “hero” from “Eros” so that heroism became born of love, and attributed high accomplishments in valor, virtue, and intellect to this amorous inspiration that he especially defines in the Phaedrus and Symposium, so this poet broadly refashions heroic form by making it (h)eroic and relatively unwarlike. The Faerie Queene’s motif of the unarmed Cupid imagistically focuses these principles of Spenser’s poetics, and this study’s findings demonstrate Platonism’s importance, currently underappreciated, to the poet’s representations of love and heroism and to his whole creative enterprise.

Sarkar, Debapriya. “Dilated Materiality and Formal Restraint in The Faerie Queene.Spenser Studies, vol. 31-32, no. xxxi,  pp. 137-166.

Scholars have long been interested in the materialistic theories and natural philosophies influencing Spenser’s poetry. This essay traces the philosophy of conserved matter that pervades The Faerie Queene—a philosophy in which indestructible matter refigures itself into different forms—to argue that the physics underlying the poem’s cosmology originates from its internal encounters with problems of formal excess, instead of from philosophical doctrines that precede narrative. This philosophy, which I term “dilated materiality,” is not merely the cosmological principle at the heart of Mutablitie’s judgment, or in scenes of cosmogony such as the Garden of Adonis. Instead, dilated materiality counteracts tendencies to narrative proliferation by balancing contravening impulses of prolixity and fixity within the various paradigms that constitute the poetic world: in domains of individual being, of political action, and of narrative closure. Mitigating the anxiety of excess pervading an “endlesse worke,” dilated materiality reclaims narrative dilatio from its own proliferating tendencies.

Bullard, Angela D. “Tempering the Intemperate in Spenser’s Bower of Bliss.” Spenser Studies, vol. 31-32, no. xxxi, pp. 167-187.

This essay asserts that “temperance” for Spenser is not an imagined state of self-sameness that must be learned by Guyon at the end of Book II of the Faerie Queene. Rather, Spenser dubs Guyon the “Knight of Temperance” because he tempers the overmoist, luxuriant Bower through an action he accomplishes rather than a trait he embodies. The Bower of Bliss was designed to alter the knights’ humoral complexions through their exchange with this garden, a garden that has more influence on the knights than the temptress Acrasia. To break the Bower’s force, Guyon moderates the improperly-mixed Bower by destroying the Italianate garden features and burning the Bower, a common early modern remedy for land that was too moist. Through this allegory on temperance, Spenser warns the English against over-cultivating their gardens and lands, lest the English also become over-refined like the Italians and French.

Starke, Sue P. “Glauce’s “Foolhardy Wit” and the Revision of Romance in The Faerie Queene.Spenser Studies, vol. 31-32, no. xxxi, 2017/2018, pp. 189-214.

Britomart’s old nurse Glauce is introduced in The Faerie Queene Book III as a stock figure who nonetheless transcends her low generic origins through comic improvisation and transformation. Initially a figure of fun who provokes Merlin to smile, the humble nurse becomes invested with the powers of a Sidneyan poet to teach and inspire; in her application of generic frames to the interpretation of experience, she is both a product and practitioner of genera mista. Britomart is motivated to pursue her chivalric career through Glauce’s pragmatic narrative interventions. Through a comparison of the earthy materialist Glauce with Britomart’s other primary mentor, the prophetic Merlin, we may see how Spenser’s comic impulse informs his revisionist treatment of the romance itself. Glauce is a low comic figure by definition, in all respects without learned or textual authority. Her literal adoption of chivalric identity as she steals Angela’s armor for Britomart exemplifies her violations of decorum with respect to class, gender, and even genre. As squire, Glauce achieves genuine heroic stature in Book IV, as her poetic interventions help to “upknit” the relationship of Artegall and Britomart.

Moore, George. “Fragmented Time in Spenser’s The Shepheardes Calender. Spenser Studies, vol. 31-32, no. xxxi, 2017/2018, pp. 215-241.

If, as some critics have argued, Edmund Spenser’s The Shepheardes Calender calls attention to its own fragmentation, it is worth considering what such discontinuities suggest about temporality, one of the key concerns of this so-called “Calender for every yeare.” Following recent efforts to bring questions of temporality to studies of material culture, this essay highlights the polychronicity of Spenser’s “little booke” and the objects in its pastoral setting. Rather than occupying a single temporality, both the Oak of the Februarie eclogue and The Calender itself contain within them the traces of divergent temporalities and may therefore be regarded as “polychronic,” as the term is defined by philosopher Michel Serres. This article argues that Spenser emphasizes the polychronicity of these artifacts as a means of critiquing the reductive temporal schema that underwrites both iconoclasm and antipoetic detraction.

Espie, Jeff. “(Un)couth: Chaucer, The Shepheardes Calender, and the Forms of Mediation.” Spenser Studies, vol. 31-32, no. xxxi, 2017/2018, pp. 243-271.

This essay elucidates The Shepheardes Calender and its relationship to the Chaucerian past. I argue that the Calender constructs its Chaucer by engaging not only with the works in his corpus itself but also with various Medieval and Renaissance texts that mediated his legacy. In doing so, the Calender fashions an English literary tradition rooted both in a single, preeminent figure and in a multitude of interpretations about him. During the fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth centuries, the interpretations of Chaucer, which I call the “forms of mediation,” are diverse and variable in content. I concentrate here on a small but influential assortment of them: the Tudor editions that printed Chaucer’s works and the poems of Gower and Lydgate that depicted Chaucer’s authorial identity. The Calender incorporates ideas from them into the June eclogue and E. K.’s prefatory epistle. There, they shape the representation of Chaucer and his poetic legacy, and dictate the terms through which Colin and Spenser may succeed to Chaucer’s model. The Calender thus makes poetic succession proceed not according to a path of direct descent but through a circuitous route populated by intermediaries—intermediaries who, as Lydgate and E. K. suggest, themselves share a special characteristic with Chaucer.

Adkins, David. “Spenser’s March and Sixteenth-Century Philology.” Spenser Studies, vol. 31-32, no. xxxi, 2017/2018, pp. 273-291.
This essay argues that March’s reception of ancient pastoral is shaped by recent developments in Northern humanist philology. First of all, it imitates an idyll that received no scholarly attention until the mid-sixteenth century. The poem benefits, moreover, from Baïf’s reconstruction of a textual crux in Moschus 1. Finally, Marchalso receives from Baïf its method of imitating Virgil, which reflects contemporary insight into Virgil’s reception of Hellenistic poetry. All of these developments arise from the practice of comparative exegesis, a philological method perfected by Parisian humanists. This essay thus aims to place March in the context of a particular cultural movement, namely sixteenth-century French Hellenism.

Segall, Kreg. “Mother Hubberd’s Intervention in Prosopopoia, or Mother Hubberds Tale.Spenser Studies, vol. 31-32, no. xxxi, 2017/2018, pp. 293-318.
This essay examines Spenser’s Prosopopoia, or Mother Hubberds Tale through an analysis of Mother Hubberd’s taletelling voice in the poem and the effects of her tale on the narrator’s illness. The essay considers the architecture of the poem—its symmetries and echoes of itself—and its embodiment of the trope of prosopopoia, in arguing that Mother Hubberd’s tale offers an ungentle-but-necessary remediation to the narrator.

Croft, Ryan J. “Embodying the Catholic Ruines of Rome in Titus Andronicus: du Bellay, Spenser, Peele, and Shakespeare.” Spenser Studies, vol. 31-32, no. xxxi, 2017/2018, pp. 319-348.
Titus Andronicus invokes Spenser’s Ruines of Rome, making the Andronici family tomb its main symbolic location and continual point of reference. Yet whereas Spenser’s ruins are architectural, the ruins of Shakespeare’s play are the mutilated bodies of its characters. Furthermore, against the Protestant emphases of Spenser and Shakespeare’s collaborator George Peele, Shakespeare’s emphasis is Catholic. His sections of the play associate Titus and Lavinia with the Catholic faith, and Aaron with iconoclastic Protestantism. In the aftermath of his daughter’s martyrdom, Titus is reduced to an icon of monastic ruin, yet the ending of the play looks away from civil war between faiths, as Marcus teaches the troubled Romans to “knit again / … These broken limbs again into one body.” The implicit Catholicism of the play places it in the tradition of Catholic writing that will run alongside the Protestant mainstream for the next centuries.

Christian, Margaret. “‘The dragon is sin’: Spenser’s Book I as Evangelical Fantasy.” Spenser Studies, vol. 31-32, no. xxxi, 2017/2018, pp. 349-368.
The twentieth-century Christian fantasy writer Frank Peretti is less well known among Spenserians than J. R. R. Tolkien or C. S. Lewis, but Peretti’s 1995 novel The Oath has striking parallels with Book I of The Faerie Queene. The Oath features a contest between an allegorical dragon and Dr. Steve Benson, wildlife biologist and fallible protagonist. In his quest, the hero is seduced by Tracy, a more sympathetic version of Duessa, and is rescued and mentored, not by Prince Arthur, but by the born-again and socially awkward Levi (who supplies this article’s title). Various characters’ sins, like Redcrosse’s, produce physical symptoms, and the healing of Steve’s infected wound is part of his conversion and experience of grace. Spenser’s dragon is often interpreted as sin, death, and the devil; Peretti invokes the same cluster of meanings for his dragon. Although Peretti states in an interview that he has not read Spenser, he writes with a similar view of sin and a forthrightly evangelistic purpose. Many anonymous early annotators of The Faerie Queene experienced Book I as Christian fiction and noted its biblical affinities rather than its literary excellence. The parallels between Spenser’s and Peretti’s works serve as a reminder of the evangelistic undertones of Spenser’s purpose: “to fashion a gentleman or noble person in vertuous and gentle discipline,” which may well include encouraging us, his readers, to identify and fight our own sins.



Kuin, Roger. “Hands On: Marginalia in a 1611 Copy of Spenser’s Works.Spenser Studies, vol. 31-32, no. xxxi, 2017/2018, pp. 371-387.

This article discusses the extensive 18th-century marginalia in a copy of Matthew Lownes’s 1611 composite edition of Spenser’s Works. It shows the printed source used by the copy’s owner and annotator, and situates both in the context of the early eighteenth-century Spenser revival that acted as a bridge between Milton’s generation and the late eighteenth-century Romantic admirers of the poet.



McCabe, Richard. “‘O pierlesse Poesye, where is then thy place?’: Locating Patronage in Spenser.” Spenser Studies, vol. 31-32, no. xxxii, 2017/2018, pp. 397-416.

“O pierlesse Poesye, where is then thy place?”: As Piers’s despairing question indicates, Spenser’s concern with patronage stretches beyond the customary “topoi” of his paratexts to inform the topography of the verse through which he seeks it. As he proceeds from genre to genre, the geographical dislocation of his speakers figures the cultural displacement of his craft. In terms of the authorial careers he lived and fabricated—the distinct yet inextricably related careers of Edmund Spenser and Colin Clout—“place” is of crucial thematic significance to “authority,” whether it be Leicester House, Kilcolman Castle, Essex House, Mount Acidale, or the “courts” of Cynthia and Mercilla (and it is arguable whether the former three are any less fictive than the latter). Beginning with an analysis of the “place” of poetry in the pastoral landscape of The Shepheardes Calender, this article examines its various inflections through the genera that followed. Relegated to the allegedly “salvage” terrain of the Gaelic bards, Spenser creates landscapes that both attest to, and simultaneously resist, his fear of cultural assimilation. But the wish to live in fairyland, expressed in the proem to the sixth book of The Faerie Queene, concedes poetry’s inability to fashion a patronal culture worthy of heroic verse, and necessitates the adoption of an Ovidian poetics paradoxically centered on the displaced self and the “designer” wilderness it inhabits.

Ryzhik, Yulia. “Spenser and Donne Go Fishing.” Spenser Studies, vol. 31-32, no. xxxii, 2017/2018, pp. 417-437.
This article examines several of Donne’s allusions to Spenser in metaphors of fish and fishing, as applied to courtship and to courtly advancement, to illuminate Donne’s complex engagement with Spenser, by turns satirizing and rehabilitating elements of Spenser’s poetics. In two vastly different poems, “The Bait” and Metempsychosis, Donne’s superficial references to Spenser function as a form of diversion. In “The Bait,” these allusions soften Donne’s tone as he parodies an earlier lyric by Marlowe, while the decision to situate his piscatory eclogue on the banks of a river shows Donne’s perceptive reading of Spenser’s river poetry. In Metempsychosis, Donne’s borrowings from Spenser’s shorter works appear to be largely satirical and anti-Spenserian, but mask a deeper, structural level of engagement with Spenser’s allegorical methods. Donne’s careful splicing of Spenserian references in the piscine episodes of Metempsychosis reveals not only the poets’ shared view of the patronage system, but also the place of Spenser as both the target and model of Donne’s quasi-allegorical mock-epic.

Brink, Jean R. “Spenser’s ‘Home’.” Spenser Studies, vol. 31-32, no. xxxii, 2017/2018, pp. 439-458.

The consensus of Spenser’s biographers is that Ireland never became his home. In this article, I question the assumptions that Spenser was banished to Ireland and that he viewed his years in Ireland as an exile. At critical junctures in Spenser’s life, 1579–80, 1582, 1588–91, and 1595–96, when he might have tried to make a career in England, he chose Ireland. I explore the reasons why Spenser decided to make his home in Ireland. In the process, I show that Ireland was less repressive than Whitgift’s England and argue that Ireland offered him independence from the uncertainties of the patronage system. In Ireland, Spenser could earn the means to support his family and to write the Faerie Queene.

Cooper, Helen. “Spenser’s Pastoral Places.” Spenser Studies, vol. 31-32, no. xxxii, 2017/2018, pp. 459-477.
Originally a plenary lecture given at the 2015 Spenser Conference in Dublin on “Spenser’s Places/The Place of Spenser,” this article explores the place of Spenser in the pastoral tradition, encompassing as it does Virgil, the Bible, and also the various other versions of pastoral that had emerged over the course of the Middle Ages. Spenser constantly sets these rich strands of inheritance in dialectical opposition to each other, principally in the Shepheardes Calender but also in the Faerie Queene; and he associates these different traditions with different kinds of places, of landscapes, which set up their own kinds of dialectic.


Braden, Gordon. “The Classical Background of Spenser’s View.Spenser Studies, vol. 31-32, no. xxxii, 2017/2018, pp. 481-493.
Most references to classical literature in the View are brief and second-hand. A few classical works, however, have a relevance to the View whether Spenser was immediately consulting them or not, notably those having to do with the classical Roman experience of conquest and empire. Caesar’s De Bello Gallico is the obvious example; but there are previously unnoted connections between Spenser’s dialogue and Tacitus’s Agricola. Agricola narrates Rome’s pacification of Britain, and raises the prospect of Ireland’s being Rome’s logical next conquest. It is not, however, a narrative of imperial success, but Tacitus’s biography of his father-in-law, the governor who brought Rome to the point of subduing all of Britain, only to be recalled by Domitian. Tacitus’s protest against the emperor’s action parallels Spenser’s protest against the recall of Lord Grey, whom he similarly argues had been on the point of successfully completing his mission. Spenser’s criticism of high-level malfeasance in Elizabeth’s court is muted, nor does Spenser give voice to the kind of sarcastic skepticism about England’s imperial mission that Tacitus puts in the mouth of the resistance leader Calgacus. But the parallels can nevertheless be felt in surprising places.

Canny, Nicholas. “Irish Sources for Spenser’s View.Spenser Studies, vol. 31-32, no. xxxii, 2017/2018, pp. 495-510.
The first section of the View is widely understood to be influenced by the twelfth-century texts of Gerald of Wales, as transmitted by Richard Stanyhurst in his Plain and Perfect Description of Ireland included in Holinshed (1577). These works describe the Norman intervention in Ireland as a civilizing process. Such an identification of sources is problematic, however, because the ultimate purpose of the View was to discredit Stanyhurst’s argument that Irish-born descendants of the Norman conquerors of Ireland (the so-called “Old English”) should complete that task. This case of problematic sourcing is resolved given that Stanyhurst’s original text reappeared in the 1587 edition of Holinshed’s Chronicle accompanied by some translations from the writings of Gerald of Wales made by John Hooker (an English Protestant antiquarian), and also by Hooker’s own History of Ireland 1546–86, wherein Hooker attributes the disturbed condition of the country to the recalcitrance of Old English lords. This, for Hooker, and also for Spenser, proved that the Irish population of English descent was in greater need of reform than their Gaelic neighbors. Given that this was the novel argument of the View, and given close echoes between Hooker’s description of famine in Munster and similar passages in the View, Hooker’s contribution to the 1587 edition of Holinshed’s Chronicle is arguably the most potent influence on Spenser’s work.

O’Halloran, Clare. “From Antiquarian Text to Fiction’s Subtext: The Extended Afterlife of Spenser’s View of the Present State of Ireland.Spenser Studies, vol. 31-32, no. xxxii, 2017/2018, pp. 511-530.
This article analyzes significant traces of the View of the Present State of Ireland in Irish novels published in the aftermath of the Act of Union of 1800. Written by Protestants, they aimed to explain the Irish problem to an English audience, and thereby foster more harmonious relations between the two islands. Spenser’s View, which had long been a resource for antiquaries, was taken up by these novelists in a variety of ways, ranging from plundering his hostile descriptions of Gaelic Irish mores to add color and an alleged authenticity to their characters and plots, to engaging with his politics and pointing to his complicity in the colonial project in Ireland. That some novelists employed both of these approaches simultaneously shows not only the continuing Protestant ambivalence toward the Gaelic Irish, and particularly the still-threatening peasantry, but also the centrality of Spenser’s View to fictive depictions of early nineteenth-century Ireland.


Mottram, Stewart. “‘With guiltles blood oft stained’: Spenser’s Ruines of Time and the Saints of St. Albans.” Spenser Studies, vol. 31-32, no. xxxii, 2017/2018, pp. 533-556.

Alban is conspicuously absent from Spenser’s Ruines of Time. Although Camden writes that Verulamium was “famous for … bringing foorth Alban,” Spenser’s Verlame is silent on Alban and again departs from Camden to claim Verulamium had been built on the Thames. This article argues that the key to Spenser’s puzzling approach to Alban and the Thames lies in Verlame’s description of the Thames’s “pure streames with guiltles blood oft stained.” Camden attributes the legend of the errant Thames to “a corrupt place in Gildas,” whose account of Alban’s martyrdom recounts his miraculous transit through that river. The article explores Spenser’s borrowings from Gildas and other medieval lives, arguing that Spenser supplies a shadowy allusion to the “guiltles blood” of Alban and other saints of St. Albans that root his poem within the “protestant” traditions of Britain’s pre-Saxon church. Complicating this, however, are Spenser’s several departures from Foxe’s reformed account of Alban, for Foxe dismisses many of the “Monkish miracles” found in Gildas and the later Lyfe of John Lydgate to which Spenser significantly alludes. Spenser’s inclusion of these “Monkish” legends thus works both to affirm and deny his poem’s protestant foundations, in the process shedding new light on Spenser’s religious sensibilities.

Kinsella, Stuart. “Two Memorials to Arthur Grey de Wilton, Lord Deputy of Ireland (1580–82), in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin.” Spenser Studies, vol. 31-32, no. xxxii, 2017/2018, pp. 557-590.

Two memorials to Arthur Grey, fourteenth baron of Wilton, Lord Deputy of Ireland (1580–82) and employer of Edmund Spenser, survive in Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin. They have received little attention for over a century. Among the few early modern monuments to survive in Ireland, they consist of a heraldry-decorated stone mural tablet and a remarkable memorial in brass, the only such pre-Victorian example in the cathedral and one of only eight surviving pre-1700 brasses in Ireland. Embellished with a rich display of heraldic quarterings, this possibly locally-made brass includes traces of colored enamel as well as a rare record of the two sons of Grey’s second wife, who died during their time in Dublin. This article brings these monuments to wider notice and casts light on the wider cultural interests of an English Tudor governor of Ireland.


Fahey, Maria. “Transporting Florimell: The Place of Simile in Book III of The Faerie Queene.Spenser Studies, vol. 31-32, no. xxxi, 2017/2018, pp. 593-612.

This article explores the places of Florimell and the place of simile in The Faerie Queene, with particular focus on the third book “Of Chastity.” Whereas the main narrative critically presents chaste/chased Florimell’s indiscriminate flight from all men, a series of epic similes, with extended narratives about alternate places, locate the logic of her motivation to flee and enlarge our understanding of Florimell and of chastity. Although simile and metaphor recently have been characterized as figures that contain the transformations they perform, The Faerie Queene suggests that the narrative transformations within an epic simile are not always cordoned off by the figure’s formal structure and can stake a place in the poem at large.

Nohrnberg, James. “Three Phases of Metaphor, and the Mythos of the Christian Religion: Dante, Spenser, Milton.” Spenser Studies, vol. 31-32, no. xxxi, 2017/2018, pp. 613-649.

This article proposes three different tenor-vehicle relations for a three-phase metaphorics of the Christian mythos in late medieval and early modern literature. Dante, Spenser, and Milton are the chosen examples (with animadversion to Langland). The phases are equated with three phases of language in Vico’s New Science. The first phase is participative, mythic, “tautogorical,” and “hieroglyphic”; the second is analogical, typological, and figurative; and the third allusive, ironic, antiphrastic, and prosaic-discursive. Christ’s death and resurrection, for example, are liturgically-calendrically and participatively present to the pilgrim in the incarnational-reincarnational poetics and transfigurative metaphorics of the Commedia; they are analogical to—and allegorized somatically in—Redcrosse’s strength or weakness of faith in Faerie Queene I; and are referred to allusively and ironically in Adam’s coming to consciousness and revival to the presence of Eve in Paradise Lost. Similarly instanced and modally differentiated are the poets’ treatments of the harrowing of hell, the sacrament of the eucharist, the symbol of Jacob’s ladder, the sacred ground of religiously consecrated sites, despair of salvation, and the seven capital sins (e.g., cosmic grades of confessional descent and ascent in Dante, threats to faith’s allegorical health in Spenser, and the devils’ Renaissance virtues in Milton).


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