A number of pieces focussing on Philip Sidney's Arcadia appeared in 2001. In an original and absorbing essay Gavin Alexander attends to the notion of completion and incompletion in responses to Sidney's life, death, and works after 1586 ('Sidney's Interruptions', SP 98.2 .184-204). Drawing upon various genres: elegies, biographies, editions, and imitations, he considers the fascination surrounding Sidney's death and the incomplete nature of his works in relation to classical rhetorical theory, especially the figure of aposiopesis, not finishing what you started. Biographies which consider Sidney's death draw upon either the ars moriendi tradition, which emphasises the good death and completion, or focus on the untimely nature of his death and incompletion. The rhetoric of both is evident in Thomas Moffett's Nobilis, a Latin biography in manuscript commissioned by Sidney's sister for her son William. There were also two ways of talking about Sidney's works, one emphasising the perfect planning of them, so that despite their unfinished state they were seen as somehow complete, and the other seeing them as fragments which could be ended by another author. Sidney's sister, Mary Sidney, countess of Pembroke, is particularly attentive to what Alexander calls 'Sidney's interruptions': she fills in all the blanks in her 1593 edition of his Arcadia and produces a work "augmented and ended" (p. 191) where Greville's 1590 edition stressed incompletion. Alexander is not impressed by her efforts to complete in works by Sidney and others, demonstrating how, in her translation of Garnier's Marc Antoine, the addition of two lines ruins the sense of the original. Pembroke's "mania for ending" (p. 196) and its interference with the original sense of a piece can also be seen in her completion of Sidney's Psalmes: where Sidney employed stanzaic deviation Pembroke opted for stanzaic regularity, not understanding "that asymmetry can give greater poetic closure" (p. 197). Alexander notes that Sidney based his new version of the Arcadia on "a structure of interruptions" (p. 199) and a range of examples from the poem are considered in order to show that Sidney's use of aposiopesis is quite deliberate and expressive rather than accidental.
In a lengthy and detailed essay Kristin Hanson considers Philip Sidney's experiments writing classical quantitative verse ('Quantitative Meter in English: The Lesson of Sir Philip Sidney', EL&L 5.1 .41-91). Hanson notes that although poets have been interested in the possibility of quantitative meter in English for centuries, experimentation with the form has not resulted in any real tradition. There was considerable interest in the form during the Renaissance with most poets trying to write such verse and many discussing its principles but most rejected it in favour of a stress-based meter and there is disagreement amongst critic as to why they reached this conclusion. Sidney's quantitative experiments belong to his earliest verse and his abandonment of it demonstrates his dissatisfaction with it in English but Hanson questions the plausibility of the theory put forward by some that he was "incapable of apprehending a significant aspect of English phonology" (p. 42). D. Attridge credited Sidney with discoveries about the lengths of English vowels, the distinction between weight and stress, and innovations in the disposition of stress but considered Sidney guilty of "arbitrariness, inconsistency, and dependency on spelling" (p. 43) believing that such verse was admired because the Renaissance valued artifice and written language over that spoken. Hanson's view is that Attridge does little justice to Sidney's phonological discoveries about quantitative meter in English, a view based on new developments in phonological theory. Of particular interest to Sidney specialists is section 4 (pp. 61-85) which provides a detailed analysis of Sidney's practice in the Old Arcadia and how it relates to his earlier poems. Hanson concludes that Sidney's practice is "much more phonologically well-founded that it has been held to be" (p. 85) and that he and subsequent poets abandoned the project of quantitative meter in English not because it is too hard, as some critics have claimed, but because it did not suit their purposes.
Kathyrn DeZur reads Sidney's Old Arcadia in the context of sixteenth-century opinions concerning the effect of rhetoric upon women ('Defending the Castle: The Political Problem of Rhetorical Seduction and Good Huswifery in Sidney's Old Arcadia', SP 98.1 .93-113).While humanists regarded rhetoric as empowering for men there was concern that women were more susceptibile to rhetoric's power which effected in them a loss of critical reasoning thus reducing their ability to function as good wives. Sidney's Arcadia suggests that if women are not good huswives, of either the household or state, then political anarchy is likely. For Sidney good huswifery involves female chastity since sexual passion clouds the judgement and throughout the Arcadia he uses the metaphor of the castle to indicate the household, female body, and polis, which women must defend. DeZur usefully traces the relationship between chastity and rhetoric in guidebooks on female education in the early modern period where some writers indicate that women are so susceptible to persuasive fictions that they should be prevented from reading certain materials and others argued that learned women make better wives since they are intellectual companions for their husbands and more able to defend their chastity. As DeZur rightly points out, the debate surrounding the pros and cons of female education as a defence against rhetorical seduction became more crucial when governance of the state was at stake. Close attention is paid to three key female characters from the Arcadia--Gynecia, Philoclea, and Pamela--as examples of appropriate and inappropriate education for rulers. Sidney's most explicit linking of household and state is in the third eclogues where a link is made between the good wife who rules a household and the good queen who rules the state, both of which depend on a balance of command and obedience. Of the three royal female characters in Arcadia only one, Pamela, is a good huswife and ruler since both Gynecia and Philoclea give in to Pyrocles's rhetoric but even here Sidney leaves his readers in doubt as to her judgement of rhetoric since she is prone to mistakes.
Two excellent collections of essays, The Anatomy of Tudor Literature and Representing Rape in Medieval and Early Modern Literature, contain notable chapters on Sidney. Regina Schneider traces the parallel literary development of Philip Sidney and Barnaby Rich, usually considered to be two very different writers ('Late Tudor Narrative Voice(s): Philip Sidney and Barnaby Rich', in Mike Pincombe (ed.) The Anatomy of Tudor Literature (Aldershot: Ashgate )). Schneider notes that in Rich's Pleasant Dialogue and Sidney's 'Eclogues' each combines the genre of philosophical dialogue with anthology. At the same time both had started to use verse and prose together in their work and in both cases the narrator's voice became less central, thus increasing the fictional nature of the writing. When Sidney's New Arcadia and Rich's Brusanus were written in mid-1580s the distance between author and story had increased with characters becoming more central to informing the reader about plot-gaps. Schneider claims that it is "this new and more sophisticated understanding of narrative structures that sets Sidney and Rich apart from their contemporaries" (p. 95). In their prose fiction Sidney and Rich were interested in a plurality of voices, something Schneider connects with their Protestantism, and they developed a new and more sophisticated understanding of narrative structures not evident in the work of their contemporaries.
Sidney's Old Arcadia and Apology for Poetry are the focus of Amy Greenstadt's essay and both texts are carefully considered in the context of the ambiguity surrounding the definition of rape in early modern culture (Amy Greenstadt ''Rapt From Himself': Rape and the Poetics of Corporeality in Sidney's Old Arcadia', in Elizabeth Robetson and Christine Rose (ed.) Representing Rape in Medieval and Early Modern Literature (New York: Palgrave )). In this period female beauty was identified as a primary agent of rapture, "a ravishing power that seduced men's senses and overturned their higher mental faculties of reason and will" (p. 311). Ravishing effects were also ascribed to literary works which suggests a connection between the aesthetic meaning of 'ravishment' and its use in English law where it was a synonym for 'rape'. In the Old Arcadia and the Apology Sidney "attempts to reconceive the relationship between author and reader by investigating and questioning the concept of ravishment" (p. 312). Greenstadt considers "the models of subjectivity that Early Modern rape law both reflected and enforced" (p. 312-313) and how in the Old Arcadia Sidney's depiction of the crimes of ravishment negotiate complex and interrelated sexual and textual issues. In the Apology Sidney "attempts to envision new models of textual production by portraying the paradoxical figures of the cross-dressed man and the desiring yet virtuous woman" (p. 313) who seem to transcend forces of textual and sexual violation but are limited by depictions of gender relations elsewhere in his work.
Two important books on Spenser appeared: a monograph and a collection of essays. Jon A. Quitslund's solid and scholarly monograph traces the Platonic philosophical tradition in Spenser's fiction (Spenser's Supreme Fiction: Platonic Natural Philosophy and The Faerie Queene). Quitslund believes that Spenser is more indebted than has been hitherto acknowledged to the writings of Marsilio Ficino, in particular his commentary on the Symposium and the De Amore or On Love. In part one, 'The Makers Mind', Quitslund announces that his study is "author-centred, rather than reader-or character- or genre-centred" (p. 19) and chapter one is particularly focussed on Spenser's careful development of a poetic persona, particularly the dangers he encountered in the difficult balance to be struck between imitation and creation. Throughout his study Quitslund considers a range of episodes from The Faerie Queene but there is particular focus on the Garden of Adonis in Book 3 and how its themes relate to Platonic philosophical concerns. Quitslund shows himself to be especially adept at thematic analysis and the close reading of particular episodes but his study is not under-theorised since it is also informed by New Historicism and other modern theoretical concerns. This book is broad in scope but a usefully detailed general index and an index of names and places in The Faerie Queene helps the reader who is attracted to the analysis of particular episodes.
In a collection of thirteen specially-commissioned essays by prominent Spenserians edited by Andrew Hadfield a wide range of subjects are considered, as might be expected from a writer as eclectic and complex as Spenser (The Cambridge Companion to Spenser). The book is divided into sections with chapters on Spenser's literary work, the contexts within which he wrote, and his literary influences. That The Faerie Queene does not dominate is welcome--Spenser's pastoral poetry and minor poems are considered--but one would have thought that Spenser's prose tract A View of the Present State of Ireland would merit individual consideration. This objection might be countered by the fact that the View is discussed in particular essays and indeed Richard A. McCabe's treatment of the text in his essay, "Ireland: policy, poetics and parody", is particularly good. Other subjects considered include Spenser's biography, his classical influences, his position on religious matters, and his attitude to gender politics, including his negotiations with Petrarchanism. Each essay contains a useful 'further reading' section and a very usable index and the collection is an important addition to the field of Spenser studies.
Two essays from a publication of conference proceedings considered Spenser's Faerie Queene in the context of A View of the Present State of Ireland. Swen Voekel's offering is a clever reading of The Faerie Queene in the light of early modern efforts by the state to absorb or eliminate aristocratic and religious rivals in the peripheral location of Ireland (Swen Voekel 'Fashioning a Tudor Body: Civility and State-formation in The Faerie Queene and A View of the Present State of Ireland', in Mike Pincombe (ed.) The Anatomy of Tudor Literature: Proceedings of the First International Conference of the Tudor Symposium (1998) (Aldershot: Ashgate )). Civil servants like Sir John Davies were worried by the delegation of authority in Ireland since local magnates held power that was unique to the state in England. Davis thought that incivility in Ireland and a lack of agrarian improvement were the consequences of forms of lordship where the individual is tied to the clan. In The Faerie Queene the situation in Ireland is represented in gigantic and monstrous figures whose primitive relationship to the earth is related to an inherent rebelliousness against civility and political order. These monstrous figures threaten the bodily integrity of the armoured knight and the body politic. Voekel focuses particularly on Arthur's defence of Alma's castle, the allegorical civilised and temperate body, against the siege of Maleger who is associated with primitiveness and the earth "and more precisely with a non-productive and unnatural (or, paradoxically, too natural) relationship to the land" (p. 149). The creation of proper divisions was considered necessary to occupy virgin land and these are violated by Maleger who is strengthened by a primitive bond with the earth. For the New English, effective occupation must be preceded by effective cultivation of the land and in The Faerie Queene and the View that cultivation is shown to be "the product of cuttings (metaphorical and quite literal) of the sword of state" (p. 151). In both texts the message is that civil society in Ireland would come about by planting New English tenants on Irish land but violence is necessary "to carve out the civil space of the English property-owning individual on the margins of the emerging British empire" (p. 152). This is a thoughtful and persuasive essay which is alert to the Irish context of the growth of state power in the early modern period and Spenser's role in the process.
Efterpi Mitsi's essay is a study of Spenser's iconoclastic treatment of ekphrasis in The Faerie Queene where the poet juxtaposes descriptions of dangerous works of art with an undecorated shield that destroys idols and counterfeits ('Veiling Medusa: Arthur's Shield in The Fairy Queen', in Mike Pincombe (ed.) The Anatomy of Tudor Literature: Proceedings of the First International Conference of the Tudor Symposium (1998) (Aldershot: Ashgate )). Arthur's supernatural shield evokes both the shield of Perseus and the gaze of Medusa with the artifice of his armour recalling images of falsehood, pride and brightness in the poem thus illustrating "the ambiguity not only of art, artifice . . . but also of the significance of brightness, the quality which in The Faerie Queene characterises both hero and villain, both truth and counterfeit" (p. 131). The ekphrasis of Arthur's armour stretches over 8 stanzas and interrupts the narrative in the same way that ekphrases, especially of armour, interrupts the narrative of the Iliad and the Aeneid. Arthur's armour is similar to that of epic heroes and it is the shield's mythic origin and romantic ancestry which invest it with a spiritual and national significance. Britomart, Arthur's historical counterpart, sees the future in another artefact created by Merlin, his enchanted mirror, and her focus on Artegall's face evokes idolatry which is only dispelled by her chastity and quest. Merlin's mirror which creates idols and Arthur's shield which breaks them are linked through a mistrust of images and Spenser uses the myth of Medusa to cast doubt on the ability of pictures to recount history. The shield is of great significance from a providential, nationalistic, and iconoclastic point of view and it is fitting that it should dominate Book 5 which deals with contemporary history, particularly English antagonism toward Spain. In The Faerie Queene, as in the Aeneid, the shield is associated with the quest for national identity but also unease with a ruler's mode of governance. The overt criticism against Elizabeth's policies in the View are veiled in The Faerie Queene for although the shield can destroy monsters it cannot protect heroes or poets from criticism. Allegory is an important form of protection and can be considered in the context of iconoclasm and Arthur's shield as a destroyer of counterfeits and idols: in his iconography of Elizabeth, Spenser decides to veil and shadow her so there can be no danger of creating an idol.
Two essays from another collection explored Spenser's debt to Ovid. In an excellent piece by Michael Pincombe, Jonathan Bate is taken to task for imposing "a modern 'romantic' fantasy" (p. 168) on Ovid's fable of Hermaphroditus and Salmacis in his Shakespeare and Ovid ('The Ovidian Hermaphrodite: Moralizations By Peend and Spenser', in Goran V. Stanivukovic (ed.) Ovid and the Renaissance Body (Toronto: University of Toronto Press )). Pincombe draws attention to the sinister side of the legend told by Ovid and considers the satirical treatment of the figure of the hermaphrodite in a poem by Thomas Peend, the Pleasant Fable of Hermaphroditus and Salmacis (1565), and Spenser's episode featuring Amoret and Scudamour at end of the 1590 Faerie Queene. Bate emphasised the mutuality and sexual equality evoked by the figure but Pincombe points out that Jonathan Crewe's reading of the union, in his Trials of Authorship, is less anachronistic. Crewe thought that Hermaphroditus represented "immobility, bondage, repetition, and pain", an interpretation similar to Peend's who thought the figure "an allegory of enslavement" (p. 156). In the Amoret and Scudamour episode Spenser refers his readers not to Ovid's treatment of the tale but rather to an obscure Roman hermaphroditic statue which Pincombe argues he intended as an image of decadence and thus sexual concupiscence. According to Pincombe, Peend sees the story of Hermaphroditus as "an allegory of the lapse into 'our beastly nature' which awaits the sexually innocent" (p. 164) and the pool of Salmacis, in which the transformation takes place, as a type of hell. For Pincombe the embrace between Scudamour and Amoret can be read in similar terms: Scudamour can be compared to Red Cross in the presence of Duessa since, although Amoret's sprite is released in lawful love, Scudamour is guilty of carnal concupiscence.
Judith Deitch complains that criticism on the figure of Echo from Ovid's myth is usually concerned with "abstractions of echo and echoing -- as intertextuality, resonance, imitation, or belatedness -- leaving the girl behind" but there is insufficient focus on the myth itself ('The Girl he Left Behind: Ovidian Imitatio and the Body of Echo in Spenser's 'Epithalamion''', in Goran V. Stanivukovic (ed.) Ovid and the Renaissance Body (Toronto: University of Toronto Press )). Echo's passive repetition of other voices "embodies classical imitation at its most facile and fragmented, as an icon of failed poetic descendance" (p. 224) but in Spenser's Epithalamion the invocation of Echo close to a female body "cancels any figuration of the poet as epigone by transferring the ineffectual image onto the available woman" (p. 224). By assuring that the bride is the focus of creation Spenser asserts the dominant role of the masculine poet. In Ovid's myth Echo's story is a sad one and a curious choice for a wedding song but in Spenser's poem "the threat of Echo as doomed repetition is evoked in order to be revoked, rejected, and transcended" (p. 225). Deitch asserts that there is no anxiety in Spenser's use of Echo as poetic imitation but rather he demonstrates that he is a poet very much in control of the material preceding him.
In a collection focussing on war, Joan Curbet points out that the concerted effort by Elizabeth I and her administration to avoid the classical topos of the Amazon had important implications for Spenser's depiction of Britomart, the female martial heroine of Book 3 of The Faerie Queene ('Repressing the Amazon: Cross-dressing and Militarism in Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene', in Aranzazu Usandizaga and Andrew Monnickendam (ed.) Dressing Up for War: Transformations of Gender and Genre in the Discourse and Literature of War (Amsterdam: Rodopi )). Instead of utilising the figure of the Amazon, which was thought to challenge sexual hierarchies, Elizabeth focused on her own divinely ordained extraordinariness and androgy: the Queen's private body might be female but as head of State and army she was always male. At the beginning of Book 3 of The Faerie Queene Spenser blames classical male poets for restricting heroism to men and notes that female heroism has not been excluded from historical records. Like Elizabeth, Britomart 's credibility relies on her being convincing as a man: the female warrior is transformed by transvestism into a male soldier and so patriarchal order is maintained. Britomart embodies the ideals of Christian knighthood and is exceptional in contrast to Radigund who destabilises sexual hierarchies. Spenser's critique of the politics of romance echoes that made by Margaret Tyler twelve year's earlier in The Mirrour of Knighthood (1586) but it is surprising that Spenser rather than Tyler should launch a critique of the epic genre's exclusion of women and that he, the courtly poet rather than the lower class female writer, should vindicate female heroism.
A number of articles on The Faerie Queene appeared this year. According to Sarah J. Plant various episodes from The Faerie Queene criticise the Catholic sacrament of Extreme Unction while others praise the sacrament as redefined by the Church of England ( 'Spenser's Praise of English Rites for the Sick and Dying', SCJ 32 .403-20). Although retained in Edwardian and Elizabethan Books of Common Prayer as "The Order for the Visitation of the Sick", the sacrament had been altered with a shift from anointing the sick with a mystical substance to spiritual education. Plant argues that the episode featuring Night's visit to the healer Aesculapius in Hades in Book 1 of The Faerie Queene is a parody of the Catholic sacrament since the efficacy of Aesculapius's treatment is denied and his failure to raise Sansjoy indicates that no sinner may return from hell without heavenly grace. The language in the episode further parodies the Catholic sacrament by associating it with witchcraft, something underlined by the presence of Duessa. In Book 1 of The Faerie Queene Redcross is anointed with oil in the House of Pride after his battle with Sansjoy where again the efficacy of the Catholic sacrament is denied. According to Plant, the negative healing in the House of Pride and Hades contrasts with the successful healing of Serena and Timias in Book 6 of The Faerie Queene where the hermit, who follows a life of prayer and grace, treats their wounds by attending to both body and mind, recalling the healers in the House of Holiness where Red Cross receives instruction in the true religion, the rite of confession, and absolution for his sins. Another positive healer is Arthur who saves Red Cross from the power of Orgoglio when he brings God's grace in the form of a precious box containing healing liquor; communion was an essential element of the redefined sacrament and Arthur's liquor represents the healing power of the Eucharist rather than the oil of unction. This is a well-researched and engaging essay which adds to our understanding of religious allegory in The Faerie Queene.
In a scholarly piece which engages with recent criticism and early modern debates John D Staines considers the Mercilla episode in Book 5 of The Faerie Queene noting that it offers an examination of political rhetoric and propaganda (John D. Staines 'Elizabeth, Mercilla, and the Rhetoric of Propaganda in Spenser's Faerie Queene', JMEMS 31.2 .283-312). He identifies a shift in Spenser's writing away from a project of producing encomium, evident in the 1590 edition, and toward the 1596 edition's analysis of the state's use of praise and blame to its own advantage. Book 5 explores the tensions inherent in certain abstract terms central to Elizabethan political debates and especially those surrounding the trial of Mary Queen of Scots: guile, treason, mercy, clemency, pity, zeal, grief, and justice. Spenser's depiction of the events surrounding Mary's execution is neither "passive official propaganda" nor "a vision of transcendent justice" (p. 304), as some critics have claimed, but rather an exploration of the rhetoric of the Elizabethan court. Spenser shows Elizabeth's government to be "a model of effective politics" (p. 304) which controlled Mary's execution so that Elizabeth's treatment of the matter was viewed in the best possible light.
Staying with Book 5, Jeff Dolven suggests that Spenser's scenes of symbolic punishment in The Faerie Queen were influenced by the public scenes of discipline witnessed by the poet in London ('Spenser's Sense of Poetic Justice', Raritan 21 .127-40). Via reference to emblems and typical early modern forms of punishment Dolven notes that the Elizabethan justice system emphasised the public and physical nature of punishment unlike the modern practice of serving time. Dolven considers punishment in The Faerie Queene to be a form of allegory-making where the force of allegory is to provide a lesson for the spectator rather than the transgressor. In Book 5 the punishment of Sanglier seems to be straightforward piece of poetic justice but the next episode featuring Munera "unsettles this sense that justice and allegory-making can so readily collaborate" (p. 137). Munera's punishment seems appropriate on the face of it but raises certain questions, for example the reference to her "sclendar wast" provides an "unallegorical middle" between her allegorical hands and feet and constitutes a "brief, humane rupture" to the allegory's "prosecutorial rigor" (p. 138).
In a thoughtful and nicely nuanced piece Kate Wheeler considers the tension between the origins of knightly action in Book 2 of The Faerie Queene and the framework claimed in the Letter to Raleigh in which Gloriana assigns quests at her annual feast (''They Heard a Ruefull Voice': Guyon's Agency and the Gloriana Framework in Book II of The Faerie Queene', in Robert J. De Smith (ed.) Proceedings of the Eighth Annual Northern Plains Conference on Earlier British Literature (Iowa: Dordt College )). That Guyon's main quest is to capture Acrasia and remove her power over knights means that temperance is "defined as strongly in terms of the protection of knightly agency as with the control of knightly aggressions" (p. 8). In the Letter to Raleigh Guyon is assigned his quest by Gloriana yet it seems clear that the quest is generated by his meeting Mordant and Amavia in canto 1. For Wheeler this "narrative discontinuity" is crucial since it has the effect of "distancing Guyon's knightly motivation and agency from the controlling rubric of Gloriana's assignment of quests" and the "confusion surrounding the inception of Guyon's quest" is the key to Book 2's meaning (p. 9). Acrasia's victims, Mordant and Amavia, represent the vulnerability of human agency and Acrasia is responsible for destroying their will. Guyon's reaction to their predicament emphasises "knightly agency based on a kind of visceral sympathy, rather than the service of an ideal or of a sovereign" yet when relating the story of Mordant and Amavia in Medina's castle the knight is represented as an agent of the sovereign who employs him and his virtue is "effaced by subjecthood" (p. 13). Wheeler regards this "striking metafictional articulation of allegiance" to be one of the poem's many "provocative and unresolved tensions" and evidence of how Spenser's desire to explore human truths comes into conflict with desire to revere Elizabeth.
Andrew King provides an overview of evidence for Spenser's interest in Middle English literature and historical writings throughout The Faerie Queene (Andrew King ''Well Grounded, Finely Framed, and Strongly Trussed Up Together': The 'Medieval' Structure of The Faerie Queene', RES 52.205 .22-58). King is particularly concerned with how The Faerie Queene conforms to the medieval conception of structure and offers a range of texts as models for the structure of Spenser's poem: medieval story collections, The Canterbury Tales, Le Morte Darthur, and manuscript anthologies of Romance. King comes to the conclusion that the poem's medieval structure should affect our response to it and we should see the poem in relation to the practice of compilation rather than as a linear structure. He also thinks the poem's medieval structure should encourage a different methodology of reading with a focus on dipping into specific parts rather than a cover-to-cover reading. King maintains that the structure outlined in The Letter to Raleigh differs from that of the poem in order to suggest that the poem is a product of the collective cultural memory, a memory which is real and therefore imperfectly recalled. This essay is sub-divided into sections which can make King's analysis seem rather list-like and the exclusive focus on structure without reference to thematic links between middle English literature and Spenser's poem tends towards the mechanical.
This year's Spenser Studies was particularly comprehensive. Susanne Woods points out that Milton, although usually thought of as the poet of individual liberty, was indebted to Spenser who, throughout his writings was preoccupied with poetry as "an exercise in freedom" (Susanne Woods 'Making Free with Poetry: Spenser and the Rhetoric of Choice', SSt 15 .1-16, p.1 ). Woods argues that, despite modelling himself on Virgil and his adherence to the imperial ideal, Spenser also challenged Elizabethan culture and ideas of freedom are central to his work. According to Woods The Mirror for Magistrates influenced Spenser's thoughts on poetry and freedom, particularly the story of the Poet Collingbourne who claimed that free speech was an ancient privilege of poets and that riddles and metaphors can protect and thus liberate the poet. In The Faerie Queene and Paradise Lost virtue is depicted as right choice and that choice depends not only on sovereignty over the self but knowledge which allows more freedom than high birth alone. The humanist meritocracy reinforced the notion of freedom as informed choice and a condition for virtue but Reformation debates over freedom of the will complicated the issue since Erasmus thought free will a condition for human choice and salvation but Luther said man had no free will and only god's grace offered salvation. Spenser adhered to the assumptions outlined by William Perkins, a Protestant apologist, who believed that man can do nothing to bring about his own salvation. In Book 1 of The Faerie Queene Red Cross cannot bring about his own salvation and each of his testing moments require divine intercession. In his poetry Spenser negotiates two paradoxes to develop his idea of freedom: the first is to reveal by hiding (under the cover of pastoral, fable, allegory, or simple metaphor) and the second is to call upon the reader's interpretation, or judgement, thus freeing the reader from accepting the poet's or anyone else's direction. The conclusion, that "Spenser's poetry is his freedom" (p. 15) raises pertinent questions. Although Woods acknowledges that Spenser is working within a sixteenth-century definition of freedom and that political freedom in the modern sense was an alien concept, we might expect some analysis of Spenser's enthusiastic advocation of autocratic control in Book 5 of The Faerie Queene and A View of the Present State of Ireland. Admittedly Woods's focus is on the poetry but the exclusion of Spenser's prose text leaves the reader desiring a closer engagement with Spenser's notion of freedom and his adherence to the imperial ideal.
In a brilliantly argued and erudite essay Kenneth Borris challenges A.S.P. Woodhouse's assertion that Book 1 of The Faerie Queene is preoccupied with grace and all subsequent books with nature, arguing rather that grace and nature interact in all parts of Spenser's poem. Like Caelia's household in Book 1, the house of Alma in Book 2 focuses on subduing the flesh and privileging the mind, unlike Lucifera's House of Pride in Book 1 which is associated with basic bodily functions and spiritual death. The Alma episode draws upon a range of interrelated religious, moral, and medical ideas outlined in detail by Borris: while some religious writings emphasised the notion that well-tempered bodies are divine works so medical treatises focussed on the physical illness caused by intemperance. Previous critics have not emphasised that Spenser "integrates Alma into a pattern of symbolism initiated in Book 1, based mostly on the sartorial imagery of Christian redemption in the Book of Revelation" (p. 37). Some Reformers thought that the soul could sanctify the body and Spenser's depiction of Alma seems to allow for sanctification of the body in earthly life. The main achievement of this essay is to take issue with the critical tendency to dichotomise what is a very complex poem and Borris presents his nuanced reading in the context of fascinating writings, both theological and medical, which throw light on Spenser's attitude to the spirit, the body, and their relation to each other.
In another well-argued and scholarly piece Joseph D. Parry points out that Guyon's forward motion in Book 2, and especially canto 12 of The Faerie Queene, is an important feature of the allegory on his moral progress ('Phaedria and Guyon: Traveling Alone in The Faerie Queene', SSt 15 .53-77). Guyon must negotiate various temptations before encountering Acrasia but Phaedria is not one of these, functioning rather as "an image of the persistently unstable, mobile, shapeshifting character of the knowledge that Guyon seeks on his journey" (p. 54). Phaedria is not a static figure who Guyon can simply pass by since, unlike the other malevolent female characters in poem, she has agency. Although Acrasia is characterised by her own stillness and the immobilisation she effects in others, Phaedria can "move freely and unpredictably in Faeryland" (p. 56). Disagreeing with Sheila Cavanagh, Parry contends that the threat from Phaedria is textual rather than sexual: she poses a threat of interpretation and prevents Guyon from making a controlled and careful progress. The quick motions of Phaedria and her boat signify moral instability but she may not be entirely malevolent. Parry borrows Derrida's term pharamakon to describe her: she is "poison and/or medicine" (p. 67), that is, her effect is generally poisonous but she can occasionally be medicinal, something apparent when she stops the fight Guyon and Cymochles. Additionally, her laughter need not necessarily denote moral degeneracy but may signify unruly youth, the foolishness of the court or even function as a check to Guyon's seriousness. Unlike Acrasia, Phaedria is not destructive nor does she invite desire, rather she inhabits "the textual space of the erratic, the unpredictable, and the not clearly discernible" (p. 73) and for Guyon the straying which she encourages may be part of the course he must follow toward righteousness.
Kyong-Hahn Kim identifies a range of critical opinions on the significance of hermaphroditic images in The Faerie Queene and concludes that the image of the hermaphrodite is primarily a symbol of succession ('The Nationalist Drive of Spenserian Hermaphrodism in The Faerie Queene', SSt 15 .79-93). When it became clear that Elizabeth would not marry there was a shift away from writing which encouraged her marriage toward that in praise of unmarried chastity and, in accordance with this, Spenser does not advise on love and marriage in The Faerie Queene but, rather, presents "the androgynous form of a mythical union of the queen with the nation" (p. 85). The theme of androgynous marriage between the queen and the nation is established by genealogical method in the promised union of Gloriana with Arthur and in particular of Britomart and Artegall. Merlin's prophecy, which completes the British chronicle, confirms that the Tudors were descendants of Arthur and predicts that from Britomart will descend Briton kings down to Elizabeth. Britomart's union with Artegall is not realised but suggested by her androgynous vision in the temple of Isis which is an allegory of dynasty. For Kim, Spenser seems also to foresee "the nation's future in permanence" through the hermaphrodite figure of Nature in the Mutabilitie Cantos who is entirely self-sufficient. Like other androgynous figures in the poem, Nature reveals her dynastic significance and, like the visionary son of Artegall and Britomart, looks like a lion, a consistent image of British ancestry in the poem. Kim is keen to assert that Spenser is not arguing for feminism or any kind of role reversal but rather that the queen is "an exception to men's rule because she is ordained by divine law" (p. 89).
Donald Stump points out that despite the recent focus on gender in The Faerie Queene little attention has been paid to "the delicate interplay between episodes of crossdressing" which Stump believes has a special value in the education of Britomart and Artegall (Donald Stump 'Fashioning Gender: Cross-dressing in Spenser's Legend of Britomart and Artegall', SSt 15 .95-119). The initial disposition of Britomart is a tendency to frowardness while Artegall is inclined to be forward but, as their romance progresses, these extremes of temperament are moderated. The final stage in Britomart's transformation is her confrontation with Radigund when she acts with masculine aggression but it is odd that she should revert to her former tendency to withdraw by subordinating herself and the women of Radegone to Artegall. Similarly Artegall learns to modify his initial tendency toward aggression but again the process of tempering excess ends with a surprising reversal when, after restoring Irena, he shows no clemency toward her rebellious subjects. Stump thinks that Spenser may have been influenced by Aristotle's theory of temperance in the Nicomachean Ethics which stated that we should move toward the opposite of our vice so as to arrive at the mean. Spenser may also be informed by Thomas Elyot who in The Governour claimed that the midpoint between extremes of masculinity and femininity is the ideal for virtuous nobility. In Spenser's poem frowardness and forwardness is gendered, something which can be noted in other pairs of lovers in the poem, and although Britomart and Artegall may moderate their behavioural extremes they retain some of these original tendencies which may explain the curious reversal to type mentioned above. For Stump, Spenser's attitude to gender is "unusually rich and complex": while he believed that ethical dispositions can be 'fashioned' he also maintained that there is a difference between the sexes, although the ideal noble man or women should moderate their natural inclinations in order to move closer to the other sex.
Moving away from the usual tendency to focus on The Faerie Queene James Fleming claims an important and hitherto overlooked connection between Spenser's sonnet sequence, the Amoretti, and his political prose tract, A View of the Present State of Ireland ('A View From the Bridge: Ireland and Violence in Spenser's Amoretti', SSt 15 .135-64). In a persuasively argued piece Fleming notes that critics have tended either to avoid the violent poems in the sequence or explain them as "parodies or travesties of Petrarchan violence" (p. 137), a reading which he considers unconvincing, noting that "the violent patterns of Amoretti are noticeably congruent to those of the View, characterised by eruption, imprisonment, insurgency, and slaughter" (p. 138). Fleming provides a detailed analysis of several poems and relates their images of captivity and enclosure to the desire to contain Irish rebellion that prevails throughout the View. Irenius suggests famine as a final solution since exclusion from English mercy and enclosure within certain areas will effectively destroy the rebels. There is a structural connection between the sonnet sequence and the prose text since both regard the final result to be external: the solution to the poet's imperfect life lies outside the sonnet sequence, in the Epithalamion, and an effective military solution lies outside current thinking about the containment of rebellion. Fleming notes a contradiction of attitude between the Amoretti and the View: in the former the lady's crime is to slaughter those who have yielded to her power but in the View Irenius remembers Grey's slaughter of those who yielded as "necessary and honourable" (p. 158). Fleming explains this contradiction by noting that the poet "does not actually urge his lady not to kill her captives" but rather "assumes that she tortures and kills them as a matter of course" (p. 158). Spenser does not express concern about the morality of slaughtering prisoners in either text but is concerned with "the public opprobrium" that can follow such conduct. The lady enjoys her bloody deeds, unlike Grey who acted because of extreme provocation and Fleming concludes that aim of the poem is "to slander the lady" (p. 159). Although the sequence was addressed to Elizabeth Boyle critics have noted that the lady in question is the Queen Elizabeth and Fleming believes that the sequence, read in the context of Spenser's defence of Grey, thus constitutes a "rhetorical revenge on the queen by fixing Grey's unique disgrace on her" (p. 159).
Joseph Black considers the possibility that Thomas Watson is the author of a manuscript poem held by Edinburgh University Library (''Pan is Hee': Commending The Faerie Queene', SSt 15 .121-34). The anonymous poem, dated 1588 and here reproduced and transcribed by Black, does not mention Spenser by name but is undoubtedly about The Faerie Queene and may have been written in the hope that it would be included as a commendatory verse in the 1590 edition of the poem. Watson is a strong candidate for authorship for various reasons: he was the first author to praise The Faerie Queene in print and, as a literary insider, he knew the people who had access to Spenser's texts in manuscript (the poem is written in Spenserian stanzas, only available before 1590 in manuscript form). Additionally, Watson knew Spenser and Spenser appears to have known Watson's work, apparently complementing him in The Faerie Queene and The Ruines of Time. The manuscript, which is heavily though not professionally decorated, appears to identify the writer's name via the Renaissance practice of naming through images: the visual representation of toes representing 'Thos', an abbreviation for Thomas, and the picture of a hare alluding to 'Wat', a common name for the animal in the period and hinting at 'Watson'. It may be that Watson's poem was excluded from the 1590 commendations because he was imprisoned in September 1589 for defending Christopher Marlowe in a street fight. The poem mentions being imprisoned during composition and the date of Watson's imprisonment is at least 6 months too late to correspond with the manuscript's date of 1588 but Black thinks that, given Watson is the most likely candidate for authorship, it is "tempting" to consider the poem's date an error (p. 128). As Black points out, whether or not the manuscript poem is by Watson it is a valuable text since it appears to be the earliest extant poetic praise of The Faerie Queene and perhaps the earliest attempt to exchange praise for favour within the patronage system, reminding us also of the social and literary networks that contributed to literary production of the period.
In the first essay in a section on Spenser and Ralegh, William A. Oram builds upon an earlier publication in which he considered Spenser's "friendly but critical" (p. 165) attitude toward Ralegh (William A. Oram 'What Did Spenser Really Think of Sir Walter Ralegh When he Published His First Installment of The Faerie Queene', SSt 15 .165-74). Although in the 1590s Ralegh was a more powerful man than Spenser as a result of his success at court, their early relationship was fairly mutual, a fact which presumably encouraged Spenser's independence from his old companion turned patron. In Colin Clouts Comes Home Againe, which presents an account of their meeting in 1589, Spenser stresses their likeness, the only distinction being that the Shepherd of the Ocean is Cynthia's shepherd. Evidence for Spenser's independence from Ralegh can be found in the fact that Spenser did not allow Ralegh's competition with Essex to influence his opinion of the latter. Spenser's dedicatory poem to Ralegh in the 1590 Faerie Queene is more ambiguous than the other dedicatory poems, and Oram's detailed analysis of it detects criticism of Ralegh with Spenser expressing the belief that it is better to have written The Faerie Queene than Ralegh's kind of poetry; Ralegh possesses a high mind but he has given way to pleasure and his poetry has been led by his courtly ambitions. Ralegh thus conforms to Richard Helgerson's definition of an amateur poet whereas Spenser is keen to assert the importance of poetry.
In the second essay from the Spenser and Ralegh section Wayne Erickson calls recent critics, including Oram, to account for taking Spenser's critique of Ralegh's poetry too seriously ('Spenser Reads Ralegh's Poetry In(to) the 1590 Faerie Queene', SSt 15 .175-84). Erickson detects "sophisticated ironic play" (p. 176) in the literary dialogue between Spenser and Ralegh and asserts that "they were probably teasing each other" (p. 177) while at the same time "engaging in some serious play concerning competitive analyses of their careers" (p. 177). The playfulness, argues Erickson, is located in Spenser's discussion of genre and his assertion that Ralegh is the superior poet when it comes to praising Elizabeth. Although Spenser may be advising Ralegh on the limitations of his "amateur, amatory lyric" (p. 177) he characterises himself as a rude poet and praises Ralegh's superior verse, even adopting "Ralegh's courtly language of erotic lyric to flesh out some of his representations of the queen" (p. 178).
The third paper in the section is Jerome S. Dees 'Colin Clout and the Shepherd of the Ocean', SSt 15 .185-96. Dees argues that critics have been too one-sided in their discussion of the political and literary relations between Spenser and Ralegh, giving little attention to "Ralegh's side of the picture" or the "the still-muddy question" of textual links between Colin Clout and the The 11th: and last booke of the Ocean to Cynthia" (p. 186). Critics usually characterise the relationship between Spenser and Ralegh as one of a "morally superior" Spenser correcting or controlling the consequences of his patron's "'private' politics of love" (p. 188) but Dees provides a much-called for corrective to the dichotomising by emphasising the dialogue between their poems and Ralegh's engagement with and challenges to Spenser's ideas. In both poems there are passages which rely on Neoplatonic ideas of love and beauty yet while Spenser affirms these ideas Ralegh subjects them to sceptical scrutiny.
The fourth piece in the section is a short comment on the three preceding papers which usefully summarises the views presented by Oram, Erickson and Dees and offers some critical analysis of their opinions (Michael Rudick 'Three Views on Ralegh and Spenser: A Comment', SSt 15 .197-203). On the whole, the comment calls for a less dichotomised approach to the relationship between Spenser and Ralegh, always bearing in mind that they share common ground in their praise of Queen Elizabeth.
In the gleanings section of Spenser Studies Richard F. Hardin detects a parallel between the English Mummer's Play, also known as the Saint George Play, and the episode from Book 1 of The Faerie Queene where Duessa tries to resurrect Sansjoy in the underworld ('Spenser's Aesculapius Episode and the English Mummer's Play', SSt 15 .251-3). According to Hardin, several details from each episode correspond, with both featuring a "combat, damsel, old woman, physician, and cure" (p. 251). There is no evidence of the play's performance until the early 1700s but the Faerie Queene episode appears to suggest that the Mummer's Play was well known at least a century earlier and Spenser adapted what was "a remnant of paganism" to the theme of spiritual restoration that is central to Book 1.
Andrew Hadfield contends that although critics, particularly Judith Anderson, have noted Spenser's indebtedness to Chaucer in his poetry one example may have been overlooked because the parallels are thematic rather than verbal ('Spenser and Chaucer: The Knight's Tale and Artegall's Response to the Giant with Scales (Faerie Queene, V. Ii. 41-42)', SSt 15 .245-9). Hadfield notes that in the episode from Book 5 of The Faerie Queene featuring the Giant with the Scales Artegall's words before Talus throws the Giant into the sea echo passages in Chaucer's "Knight's Tale", in particular Theseus's "First Moevere" speech at the end of the tale (lines 2987-3074) and Saturn's description of the effects of his rule over the universe (lines 2453-78). The arguments put forward by Artegall and Theseus are, claims Hadfield, "almost identical": (p. 247) both making a strong case against complaining about the will of the Gods. Hadfield usefully compares sentences from each text in order to demonstrate that each speech contains "verbal and syntactic parallels between sentences and phrases" (p. 246). Hadfield also contends that Spenser may have gone back to Chaucer's translation of Boethius' Consolation of Philosophy, a source text when composing "The Knight's Tale". Chaucer's tale emphasises the influence of Saturn and Jupiter and in later books of The Faerie Queene the struggle between these gods and the Titans is paramount. The episode featuring Artegall and the Giant is part of this contest since Artegall possesses powers from Jove via his sword, Chrysaor, and the Giant is a Titan.
In an article that does not pull any punches, Lydia M. McGrew questions the uncritical acceptance of Alexander Dunlop's Lenten interpretation of the Amoretti, despite a challenge to Dunlop's reading of the sequence by Josephine Waters Bennett ('A Neglected Gauntlet: J. W. Bennett and the Date of Amoretti', SSt 15 .257-72). Dunlop argued that the sonnet sequence represents the period of time between Ash Wednesday and Easter in the year 1594 and the 47 poems correspond to the number of days in the Lenten period. According to Dunlop, Sonnet 22 is about Ash Wednesday and Sonnet 62 about March 25, also known as Lady Day, one of the days from which a new calendar year could be marked. Bennett disagreed, claiming that Sonnet 62 refers to January 1, New Year's Day, because there are references in the sequence to customs specifically associated with January 1, which means that Sonnet 22 cannot be about Ash Wednesday and therefore there is no Lenten sequence. Carol Kaske, although apparently unaware of Bennett's article, elaborates upon points made by Bennett which undermine Dunlop's thesis. McGrew's language is strong, she claims that "It is something of a scholarly disgrace that Bennett's gauntlet has remained so long neglected by those she challenged" (p. 269), but her point that Dunlop's reading of the sequence should be re-examined in the light of Bennett's article, especially given Dunlop's influence on other numerological interpreters, is entirely valid.
It is difficult to believe Alexander Dunlop's claim that he found Lydia M. McGrew's scathing indictment of his failure to engage with Bennett's criticism gratifying ('Sonnet LXII and Beyond', SSt 15 .273-7, p. 273). Dunlop's defence for ignoring Bennett's arguments is not particularly convincing either: that his prepared "correction" was refused by Renaissance Quarterly (the journal which published Bennett's piece) did not prevent him from publishing elsewhere, nor should Bennett's death in 1975 have prevented his engagement with the objections she raised. It is disingenuous to claim that because no one published work on Bennett's article between 1973, when it first appeared, and his 1989 edition of the Shorter Poems he need not mention her argument (yet summarises his own) in that edition. To characterise her argument as "unessential quibbles" appears to be wishful thinking on the part of Dunlop and his long overdue response to points raised in Bennett's article and revived by McGrew is not entirely convincing. Whether or not one is persuaded by Bennett or Dunlop however is not really the point since McGrew's complaint, that Bennett's argument has been unfairly ignored for years, is irrefutable.
This year's Notes and Queries saw a focus on Spenser and Ireland. Raymond Gillespie and Andrew Hadfield consider two references to Spenser in the Irish Chancery recognisances (British Library Add MS 19837) one of which appears to prove that the common interest of landowners in Ireland could take precedence over colonial politics (Raymond Gillespie and Andrew Hadfield 'Two References to Edmund Spenser in Chancery Disputes', N&Q 48 .249-51). The first entry dated 10 June 1589 notes Edmund Spenser gent. and Richard Roche of Kinsale entering a bond for a case in Chancery between Edmund Spenser and Hugh Strawbridge but no further details are provided. The second entry, dated 18 June 1589 notes that Edmund Spenser of Cork was to provide security of delivery of James Shropp to Newgate in Dublin. Although no record of Shropp survives it is clear that he was connected with Spenser, perhaps as a servant on his estate or via Spenser's civil service duties. The first entry is of particular interest to Spenserians because although it might refer to undischarged debts it probably relates to a dispute over land rights and titles. Hugh Strawbridge (or Strowbridge) was a servant of Sir William Fitzwilliam, then Lord Deputy, of whom Spenser was highly critical in his View of the Present State of Ireland. Spenser's cooperation with Roche, whose name suggests he was Old English and possibly related to Spenser's Munster enemies, "suggests that alliances between New and Old English settlers were not polarized at this point" (p. 251). That Roche and Spenser "could clearly combine against a well-connected crown servant when their self-interest and rights to land were threatened" (p. 251) strengthens Patricia Coughlan's claim that land and property disputes form an important sub-text of Spenser's literary writing.
Andrew Hadfield also considers an anonymous text which may have influenced Spenser when composing the View and The Faerie Queene (Andrew Hadfield 'Spenser's View and Leicester's Commonwealth', N&Q 48 .256-9). Leicester's Commonwealth: The Copy of a letter Written by a Master of Art at Cambridge (1584), an influential and widely read text despite efforts to suppress it, would probably have been of interest to Spenser given its connections with Philip Sidney who answered the attack on his uncle and Lord Grey de Wilton, another object of its attack. The author of the text claims to be a scholar who has recorded the comments of a learned Catholic lawyer, a man both moderate and loyal to the crown. The text consists of two main arguments: that Leicester, not the Queen, governs England and his tyranny will force moderate Catholics to rebel thus pushing England into a state of civil war. The second argument is that Mary Queen of Scots has the best claim to the throne of England and her line should succeed when Elizabeth dies. As Hadfield rightly notes, Spenser would have been interested in this subject matter since he showed himself to be anti-Stuart in the second edition of The Faerie Queene, where Mary Stuart is represented as the villainous Duessa. Spenser may also have had Leicester's Commonwealth in mind when composing a particular passage about Grey in the View which refers to a conspiracy against the crown led by Thomas FitzGerald during Grey's deputyship. Whereas Grey is denounced as a traitorous commander in Leicester's Commonwealth he is praised as a loyal and capable captain in the View. Although Ireland is characterised as a paradise in Leicester's Commonwealth Spenser's View characterises it as a dangerous land which requires a strong military leader. Leicester's Commonwealth considers the dangers of intolerance in England which may force moderate Catholics to revolt but the View indicates the dangers of tolerance in Ireland where disloyal Irish Catholics threaten English government. Another point of influence may be that Leicester's Commonwealth makes a connection between Leicester's treason, Ireland and Ovid's story of Diana and Acteon. Spenser may have remembered the connection between Ireland and this myth when writing The Faerie Queene since Ireland is the place where Acteon sees the queen naked.
In a persuasive piece Thomas Herron identifies a hitherto overlooked source for the name 'Blandina', a character who appears in Book 6 of Spenser's Faerie Queene (Thomas Herron 'A Source for Edmund Spenser's 'Blandina' in Holinshed's Irish Chronicle (1587)', N&Q 48 .254-6). Although Blandina initially admonishes her villainous husband she later protects him and her words are judged by the narrator to be "false and fayned" (6.42-43). John W. Draper claimed that her name derived from the diminutive of the Latin blandus, 'enticing, tempting' which A.C. Hamilton translated as 'soothing' in reference to her speech and remarked that her name also derived from the Latin blandiri, 'to flatter'. Herron notes that the name also appears in the second edition of Holinshed's Chronicles (1587), a work with which Spenser was familiar since he used it as a source for Book 3 of The Faerie Queene in allegorising Sir Walter Raleigh's military exploits in Ireland during the Desmond rebellion. In Holinshed 'Blandina' is the name of a mountain and Herron claims that Spenser's character "fit[s] into a pattern of peaceful but occasionally mischievous female characters named after Irish topography" among them the nymph Molanna of the Mutabilitie Cantos and the river nymph Mulla from Colin Clouts Come Home Againe, both of whom undermine figures of authority. In an effort to escape from Arthur, Blandina hides her husband beneath her garment, an action which Herron compares to Spenser's description in the View of "the secretive uses, by rebels and loose women, of the trademark Irish garment, the mantle" (p. 256). Spenser's View also referred to the rebellious Irish hiding out in the mountains and Herron concludes that in the episode from The Faerie Queene Turpine figuratively hides in the hills from British justice, allegorised in the shape of Prince Arthur.
Religion is central to a solid and thoughtful piece by Kathryn Walls which considers Spenser's Kirkrapine episode in the context of Thomas Cranmer's injunctions, first issued in 1547 and reissued under Elizabeth (Kathryn Walls 'Archbishop Cranmer's 'Poor Box' Injunction and The Faerie Queene, I.iii.16-18', N&Q 48 .251-4). Although Kirkrapine is a villain in a work that is generally Protestant and iconoclastic, his theft of certain items "is strongly reminiscent of the iconoclastic expeditions of Edward VI's commissioners" (p. 251). Kirkrapine's theft of "poore mens boxes" is a reference to Cranmer's twenty-ninth injunction in which he ordered churches to keep a box for the poor; this was a Reformation invention and so Kirkrapine is undermining a specifically Protestant institution. Kirkrapine also steals vestments and 'habiliments' from 'saints' and 'priests' which might suggest that his victims are Catholic but, claims Walls, Spenser is here invoking two important Reformation doctrines: Calvin's claim that all Christians may be described as saints and Luther's doctrine of 'the priesthood of all believers'. These thefts thus expand upon his stealing of alms and thus all of Kirkrapine's thefts represent the same sin of refusing charity to fellow Christians. Further evidence that Kirkrapine is not an iconoclast is his idolaltry of Abessa, feeding her with his offerings and paying her with gold.
Moving away from issues surrounding the colonisation of Ireland and religious matters, Bart Van Es provides new information on the biography of John Dixon, the earliest and most prolific early modern annotator of Spenser's poetry (Bart Van Es 'The Life of John Dixon, The Faerie Queene's First Annotator', N&Q 48 .259-61). In a private publication of 1964 Graham Hough analysed and transcribed Dixon's marginalia in a copy of the 1590 Faerie Queene but he provided only a cursory biography of Dixon and more recently, in The Spenser Encyclopaedia (1990), Michael O'Connell claimed that, besides a date for the annotations and the likelihood that Dixon lived in Kent, 'nothing is known of him'. Drawing upon a number of facts, presented here with an admirable attention to detail, Van Es concludes that it is possible to know more about Dixon than hitherto acknowledged. An historical and topographical survey of Kent, a publication featuring the Dixon family tree, and the register of the school attended by Dixon's brothers allow Van Es to establish that Dixon was at least 37 when he made the annotations. Furthermore, his father's will, which provides details about property and land bequeathed to family members, indicates that by the time he annotated The Faerie Queene Dixon "probably possessed considerable wealth and property" (p. 260). Although little is known of Dixon's education it is clear that he was of a higher social status than imagined by Hough who referred to him as the 'Puritan parson of moderately scholarly tastes'. Two further points, raised by Hough, are rectified by Van Es: Letters of Administration of Dixon's estate were granted in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury in February 1627/8 which Hough considered to be an indication that Dixon died at that time but Van Es contends that the document concerns a different branch of the family and so tell us nothing about Dixon's date of death. Also, the copy of The Faerie Queene containing Dixon's annotations is no longer owned by Lord Bessborough but is in the care of the Stansted Park Foundation and kept at Stansted Park, Rowlands Castle, Hampshire.
Andrew Hadfield (ed.) The Cambridge Companion to Spenser, Cambridge Companions to Literature. Cambridge University Press . pp. 298, £40, ISBN 0-5216-4199-3
Jon A. Quitslund Spenser's Supreme Fiction: Platonic Natural Philosophy and The Faerie Queene. University of Toronto Press . pp. xi + 373, $70, ISBN 0-8020-3505-1