"From that day forth I cast in carefull mynd, / to seeke her out with labor, and long tyne": Spenser, Augustine, and the places of living language.
Importantly, this "secret wound," although hidden, burns though it is not seen or discussed, implying that just because it is unseen does not mean it does not exist (FQ 1.9.7). The interplay between the seen and the unseen is a topic Spenser addresses throughout The Faerie Queene, and he comments directly on it in the proem to Book 2. (3) Here, he asks, "What if within the Moones fayre shining spheare, / What if in every other starre unseen / Of other worlds he happily should heare?" (FQ 2.proem.3). Spenser suggests that there is always something knowable, even in the unknown or the unseen. Spenser's second question implies the existence of two worlds, one seen and the other "unseen." My aim in this essay is to examine this distinction and its relation to memory, interpretation, and Spenser's reader: Spenser's reader will use the seen places of the text as starting points for making connections between past knowledge and future understanding--connections that will allow the unseen places of the text to make impressions on the seen places.
THIS intertwined relationship between the seen and the unseen is reflected in the symbolic nature of Spenser s image of the bright moon and the unseen stars. Here, the light of the moon outshines the stars, but, importantly, they both simultaneously exist. And, as the image illustrates, the stars are many, but the moon is one, suggesting that the seen may only take one form, the moon, but the unseen possibilities--the stars--are multiple and limitless. Importantly, a reader, no matter what his/her exegetical skill level, begins interpreting by looking at the seen "moon" (or text). Yet, it is only the experienced interpreter who will seek out the unseen worlds of the "stars" (or potential meanings). In this image, Spenser suggests that the unseen is not an alternate reality, but perhaps an extended one whose boundaries depend upon the reader's willingness to look away from the single-focus of the bright moon in order to consider the vast entirety of the star-studded sky.
Spenser's treatment of the moon and the stars as unknown though potentially knowable places ties in with other places he names in proem 2--Peru, the Amazon, and Virginia (FQ 2.proem.2). (4) Adding the moon and the stars to this list of potentially knowable places appears to expand the earthly places of knowing to include the seemingly unknowable heavens. With such a gesture Spenser appears to re-focus on the action of exploration and discovery. Referencing the moon and stars, places that can never be empirically known like earthly ones, suggests the possibility of recognizing the unseen and transcending the limits of the seen. (5) Instead, an interpreter can draw upon memory and understanding of the seen to consider the possible meaning of the unseen, as Arthur does with Gloriana. That is, a knowledge of the earthly can be used to consider the heavenly, just as a knowledge of the seen text can be used to discover unseen meaning.
Spenser's depiction of the relationship between the seen and the unseen echoes St. Augustine's ideas about scriptural exegesis. Augustine posits that the act of signification relies upon a recollection of associations housed in the mind of the interpreter. Essentially, the meaning of the seen should reveal the meaning of the unseen, not necessarily reflect its own meaning upon it. Once one expands his/her view to include the stars, the moon does not fade out of view, but instead, the stars enhance the position of the moon, rather than diminish it; choosing to include the stars in one's gaze is not an either/or choice--either view the stars or the moon--but more of a both/and. Such a perspective encourages interpretative multiplicity, rather than diminishes it.
As this study shall argue, Spenser approaches many poetic issues of limited representation as issues of interpretation. In an effort to overcome these limitations as a poet, Spenser appears to place more emphasis on the abilities of his reader. And with this interpretative agency Spenser endeavors to train his reader in how to interpret the text via the text; as James Nohrnberg puts it, "Spenser embodies in a character an 'intention' of the hero that cannot be sharply distinguished from the intention of the poet toward the ideally responsive reader" (47). Specifically, Arthur's retelling of his dream of Gloriana is an example of how Spenser engages with these interpretative and poetic issues of representation. This episode exemplifies the concept of "living art" Spenser introduces in the proem to Book 3; it is an instance where the character depicts the type of interpretative action Spenser's reader should perform. In this scene, Arthur exemplifies the post-reading experience that is interpretation. He applies past knowledge and experience to his current task of seeking Gloriana as he retells to Una his first meeting with the Faerie Queene (FQ 1.9.14-16).
Though I shall intermittently refer to the specifics of this episode, generally, this scene is significant to the story for a number of reasons--it names Gloriana and Arthur for the first time, it gives the context for Arthur's quest, and it humanizes the Briton King, to name a few. (6) But for the sake of this examination, this scene becomes hermeneutically important because it discusses the relationship between the seen, the unseen, and the reader. Spenser uses the actions and decisions of his characters--in this case Arthur and his decision to find Gloriana--to illustrate for the reader how to use the seen elements of the text to discern the unseen and make use of the unseen for edification. Arthur's retelling of his dream of Gloriana illustrates how the characters' experiences make the reader alive to virtue, far beyond merely hearing of it. In the case of Arthur, Gloriana (his ideal) is animated, and, in turn, so is he to seek the ideal. The episode encapsulates how, for Spenser, "living art" encourages the reader to use the immediately discernible text, such as the actions of the characters or the characteristics of virtue, to discover the more covert textual elements, and, in turn, uncover meaning by synthesizing both forms of knowledge. (7) Thus this scene also instantiates Spenser's appropriation of Augustinian ideas of readerly agency and self-awareness. (8)
Spenser tackles these interpretative and representational issues by constantly referring to various practices of visual art and the methods of visual interpretation. In the proem to Book 3, Spenser introduces this concept of "living art" to express his anxiety over depicting Elizabeth's virtue, her chastity. (9) When referring to chastity as the "fairest vertue" Spenser refers to "living art": "Sith it [chastity] is shrined in my Soveraines brest, / And formed so lively in each perfect part, / That to all Ladies, which have it profest, / Neede but behold the pourtraict of her hart, / If portrayd it might bee by any living art" (FQ 2.proem. 1, my italics). Here, Spenser suggests that Elizabeth's chastity is already perfectly represented in her real-life person, implying an anxiety about depicting what is already "formed so lively in each perfect part," a sentiment he overtly states in the next lines, "But living art may not least part expresse, / Nor life-resembling pencil it can paynt" (FQ 3.proem.2). What is most striking about this passage is the idea that the beholder can recognize imperceptible chastity and learn of the virtue. In essence, the viewer can witness the virtue of chastity in the actions and person of Elizabeth; s/he can learn of virtue through her example. But, for Spenser the poet, this sort of potential is all contingent on her portrayal.
Living art is "alive" because Spenser's characters animate it. That is, the actions of Spenser's characters animate different aspects of a virtue so the reader can experience them. For Arthur, this virtue is Gloriana. He experiences her in his dream--vision and, from there, desires to seek her. Yet, the way in which encounters her--the way she reveals herself in a dream-state - is significant because it suggests that this is the place between physical and mental realities where the seen and the unseen meet. For Arthur, in this state "[...] every sence the humor sweet embayd, / And slombering soft my hart did steale away" (FQ 1.9.13, my italics). Arthur's senses are bowed so as to receive Gloriana as real, whatever her state of corporeality or ethereality.
This dream-vision trope is not a particularly new or even innovative one based on its literary history. (10) Still, Spenser takes rare advantage of it to express his interpretative model. Here, again, proem 3 is helpful, as Spenser states, "That with his melting sweetnes ravished, / And with the wonder of her beames bright, / My sences lulled are in slomber of delight" (FQ 3.proem.4, my italics). Though this passage compliments the ways in which Sir Walter Raleigh praises Elizabeth, the effect of his adoration on the reader is especially important. Upon seeing Cynthia's (Elizabeth's) virtue described in the poem, the reader's senses are lulled into the "slomber of delight," suggesting that witnessing virtue, even in poetic depiction, moves one closer to a more complete understanding of virtue beyond what is seen.
Furthermore, the idea of moving from reading awake and engaged to being lulled into a slumber after interpretation implies continuity between these two states. Assumedly, from this slumber, the reader, upon being sparked by Elizabeth's "beames bright," as depicted in the many versions of her in the text, is able to move to a state where experience of the text's visual imagery reveals previously unseen wisdom--while a reader is exposed to observable reality, s/he is simultaneously pulled away from this very reality. Arthur begins in this dream-state, suggesting that he begins in a place where boundaries between the seen and the unseen are already blurred. In this visionary state, he can use both the seen and the unseen to move towards truth, or, Gloriana, in this case. Essentially, his blending of memory and the representation of truth spurs him to find the very truth he has been exposed to, the truth he remembers with wounded heart and hopeful smart.
Moreover, in Arthur's experience with Gloriana his learnings are beyond language. He tells Una, "But whether dreame delude, or true it were, / Was never hart so ravisth with delight, / Ne living man like words did ever heare, / As she to me delivered all that night" (FQ 1.9.14, my italics). Arthur knows that he was approached in a dream, but, for him, the issue is not if she is real or fake, or if what she uttered is true or false. Instead, he is concerned with how to use the information he has been given. That is, he desires to use what he knows of truth (what she has shown and told him) to seek grander, higher truth. Her words "ravisht [him] with delight," again linking this scene with Spenser's desired interpretative readerly ends. Raleigh's poetic words, his "melting sweetnes," eventually "ravished" the reader into textual delight. Similarly, Gloriana's words move Arthur from slumber to a "slomber of delight" (FQ 3.proem.4). In this sense, Gloriana is an example of living art in that her presence animates her words--literally her text is alive because she is the text. She is what Arthur interprets; she is the truth he seeks in his interpretation and exploration of Faerieland. Consequently, Arthur becomes the reader's model for textual interpretation.
In moments like this, Spenser seems intentionally to complicate virtuous representation as he uses virtue as the topic of interpretative lessons. These topics of virtue reveal themselves in several different ways throughout the poem: sometimes Spenser has his characters, such as Redcrosse, struggle with interpreting virtue; other times he depicts one virtue in several different ways via several different characters, as is the case with Elizabeth's simultaneous role as Una, Briotomart, Belphoebe, and Gloriana; alternatively, he may allow a character to narrate coming to virtuous knowledge, as is the case with Arthur and Gloriana. In each of these scenarios, Spenser's reader is meant to use the events of the text both to learn about virtue and to practice how and where to locate such learning.
Importantly, Spenser's naming of "living art" associates this sort of teaching with examples of visual art--not solely dialectic or commentary. In the second stanza of the proem to Book 3, after naming classical artists Zeuxis and Praxiteles, both famed for rendering ideal female beauty, Spenser comments, "Ne Poets witt, that passeth Painter farre / In picturing the parts of beauty daynt, / So hard a workmanship adventure darre, / For feare through want of words her excellence to marre" (FQ 3.proem.2, my italics, note from Hamilton 287). This "want of words" refers to the limits of language Spenser is concerned will keep him from depicting Elizabeth's chastity, and, perhaps, virtue in The Faerie Queene at large. He asks, "How then shall I [Spenser], Apprentice of the skill, / That whilome in divinest wits did rayne, / Presume so high to stretch mine humble quill?" (FQ 3.proem.3). As A. Leigh DeNeef suggests, and A. C. Hamilton notes, here, Spenser shifts his humility topos as a poet to one of inexpressibility in the poetry itself, which defers much of the textual authority from the author to the reader (DeNeef 111-12; Hamilton 287). In this regard, any inexpressibility within the text appears linked to the limitations of representation that are poetically associated with these limits of language. Furthermore, in this passage, Spenser aligns the poet's mind with that of the visual artist. However, as Spenser implies, the difference between the task of the poet and the visual artist is that the poet's difficulty lies in depiction via language. In some sense, the poet must always deal with the unseen and his/her task--his/her challenge--is making these unseen elements seen in the reader's mind's eye.
SPENSER'S way of overcoming the trap of limited, flat representations of virtue--the type of representation Spenser claims is why he "cannot [Elizabeth's] glorious portraict figure playne"--is to present several variant depictions of Elizabeth's virtue "in mirrours more then one her selfe to see, / But either Gloriana let her chuse, / Or in Belphoebe fashioned bee: / In th'one her rule, in th'other her rare chastitee" (FQ 3.proem.5, my italics). This choice of depiction translates into a proliferation of choices for meaning, any of which may shed light onto some characteristic of Elizabeth's virtue. These interpretative choices equate to experience with virtue and interpretation. Furthermore, by presenting several shades of virtue--many "living colours," "right hew[s]," and "colourd showes"--Spenser exposes his reader to many variations of a virtue, which allows his reader to experience virtue by interacting with it, rather than being told about it and pondering a list of its traits (FQ 3.proem.3-4). The result of such exposure is a reader who can know virtue from experiencing it--a reader who is encouraged to become an interpreter, actively seeking, discovering, and making connections between such portrayals in an attempt both to understand virtue and to actualize it in this process.
Furthermore, this readerly action of interpretative choice suggests a sense in which the text is "living." As a reader discovers unseen textual areas via the seen textual examples and depictions, s/he is motivated to seek truth; and as s/he does so, the text changes and expands the more an interpreter explores and digs because these readerly actions break the limitations that language and representation can impose upon textual meaning. In effect, a reader-oriented interpretative model rooted in multiplicity and choice, as Spenser's is, suggests that valid poetic interpretation and meaning cannot be solely linked to the author's intended meaning, but, rather, meaning is brought to life through the interpretative actions of a reader.
Arthur exemplifies this type of readerly action when he comments upon the vision of Gloriana. He acknowledges the possibility that she could be fictitious: "But whether dreame delude, or true it were, / Was never hart so ravish with delight, / Ne living man like words did ever heare, /As she to me delivered all that night;" (FQ 1.9.14). Though the corporeality of Gloriana's presence is suspect, for Arthur there is no question--the impact of the visit is real, both literally and figuratively. When Arthur wakes he "[...] found her place devoid, / And nought but pressed gras where she had layn" (FQ 1.9.15). (11) This imprint offers Arthur a tangible impression of an ideal, similar to the spectator who can glimpse chastity by viewing Elizabeth or representations of her. His knowledge of Gloriana is extended once he wakes and sees her physical imprint in the grass. (12) It is not so much an alternate reality as an extended one. His knowledge of reality, of her physical imprint, is extended by the events of his dream, such as her words or naming herself. In fact, once she is named, her dream-reality/ dream-ideal is solidified with her physical existence in the "real world"--here, manifested in the imprint in the grass and in her role as Queen of Faerieland. As Spenser suggests in his idea of living art, Arthur's "sense" of her virtue, instilled in him by the "sense" or impression of her existence, sheds light onto the larger nature of her existence, both as Arthur's ideal and a real character in Faerieland. In effect, Arthur's reality is given purpose by his ability to discover meaning in obscurity, in those aspects of the experience--dream, ideal, Gloriana's identity--that should be unknown.
Just as Gloriana is both seen and unseen, so, too, is her impression on Arthur; his overt actions to find her do not immediately reflect the complexity of his hidden wounds. Yet, their meeting, however questionable the reality, is real for him and these impressions urge him to seek the love she "badde" him to possess, for "From that day forth I [Arthur] lov'd that face divine; / From that day forth I cast in carefull mynd, / To seeke her out with labor, and long tyne, / And never vowd to rest, till her I fynd," (FQ 1.9.15). For Arthur, Gloriana is the ideal and the real, the seen and the unseen. Referring to Spenser's idea of living art, as the real, she animates conceptions of the ideal, offering tangible "proof' that she exists. Yet, as the ideal, she also animates the various versions of the real, which, in this case, are Arthur and his quest for her. Her presence, her seen and unseen impression on Arthur, provokes him to seek her--to seek and unify the real and ideal conceptions of her. This sort of action epitomizes the interpretative maneuvering that Spenser desires his reader to apply to his text. The "labor, and long tyne" Arthur alludes to is the interpretative work a reader must perform in order to attain a more complete textual and philosophical understanding of virtue. The text is animated; it is "alive" not because it exists, but because the reader uses it.
This conception of a living text, while ultimately Augustinian, has a closer precedent in Dante's interest in authorial authority and "living language." (13) Often linked to Dante and the use of the vernacular in poetry, "living language" refers to a vernacular language that evolves and changes with use--again, it is "alive" because it is used, not because it exists. In Dante's context, living language is part of the vulgare, or vernacular poetry, as opposed to grammatica, or the Latin philosophical culture (Marchesi 202). As Simone Marchesi points out in his discussions surrounding the three language stages in Dante's life (exile, mid-career commentaries, and the writing of the Commedia), Dante wavers between "privileging the philosophical clarity of prose and the strenuous advocacy of his poem's power to cross into ethics" (xi). This wavering Marchesi refers to represents the ideological changes in Dante's poetry between texts such as his early Convivio and De vulgari eloquentia and the later Commedia, and those treatises of his middle-career; more specifically, the content of these texts reflects a modification in where textual authority can be attributed. In these early and late works, Dante views poetry as the interplay between language and rhetorical moves and figures, and, in this interplay, textual authority comes from a reader's interpretation of this interaction, not necessarily from the author's intentions. As Marchesi and other Dante scholars point out, Dante departs from these ideas in his mid-career treatises where he claims that authority is rooted in the author and, eventually, must confront, rethink, and, at times, revise his earlier ideas about poetry in the Commedia (Marchesi x-xii).
The result of these meditations is a theory of poetry that is based on the split between artistic form and intellectual content--a "hermeneutic model coherent with a poetics of inspiration that could endow his text with a higher authority than the limited, all-too-human prestige of its author, a notion that may be found in embryo in Vita nuova, but that only the Commedia fully develops" (Marchesi x). In the reconciliation of his earlier and later poetic ideas, Dante exhibits concern for both the reception of his poetry and the general role and "task of the poet" (Marchesi ix). For Dante, this "task" includes considering how the reader's activity factors into poetic reception. Spenser shares Dante's interest in readerly participation and agency, but takes Augustinian concepts of training the reader through hermeneutic exertion appreciably further than the older poet had.
This "poetry of inspiration" introduced in the previous passage--a poetry that "unloads the burden of interpretation onto the reader and subordinates the author to a higher source"--speaks to Dante's concerns about poetic authority and authorial intention, in that it releases sole authority from the author and allows the reader to expand textual parameters through interpretation and contemplation--through actively using the text (Marchesi xii). Perhaps, a poem's "power" now lies in the reader's ability to extract ethical and moral lessons, not simply to contain them. From this perspective, the text is not a mere artifact, but a living entity, animated by a reader's participation with it; this engagement is created via a reader's interpretative actions. This tradition of a reader-oriented hermeneutics (a tradition originated in Augustinian exegetical practices and ideas) suggests that a text's significance, perhaps its function, is linked to the ways in which a reader participates with it. Or, as Gregory B. Stone suggests, a reader-oriented hermeneutics is "the notion that the significance of a text is largely the function of the way that it is understood by an audience" (6). Valid interpretation is not solely rooted in the author's intentions, but, rather, in the reader's ability to use these intentions--these cues--to gain a fuller textual understanding.
IN texts such as On Christian Doctrine, Augustine provides the model for the basis of human language. In addition to his discussions of signs, Augustine directly and indirectly addresses the role of the reader in the exegetical act. Moreover, in these discussions, Augustine seems ever-concerned with how an exegete participates with a text (Scripture, for St. Augustine), not necessarily what s/he learns from it. That is, Augustine seems interested in the interpretative process, rather than product--in an exegete's interpretative utility, not necessarily his/her accuracy (Stone 6). Or, as Augustine comments, "Whoever finds a lesson there [in Scripture] useful to the building of charity, even though he has not said what the author may be shown to have intended in that place, has not been deceived, nor is he [the interpreter] lying in any way" (OCD 1.36). In this passage, Augustine proposes that lessons can be learned and meaning can be gained from unintended places, outside of the scope of authorial intention. Furthermore, these lessons represent an interpreter's ability to find meaning in unlikely places.
In many ways, this idea of living language--a language learned through experience, as Dante discusses--largely factors into the idea that lessons can be learned anywhere, in any context. For Dante, this suggests that poetry, as opposed to philosophical commentary, can be a place where moral issues can be addressed, if the reader lets them. Importantly, this readerly awareness can be either accidental or intentional. Stone references the encounter with Statius in the Purgatorio 22 as a most obvious example of how interpretative experience can overcome the limits of language, and, even error, as Statius has misread Virgil, but has still imbibed valuable lessons (7-8). As Stone points out, in an attempt to seek moral reform, Statius finds Christian content in Virgil's Eclogue--content Virgil did not intentionally include in the text. And, from this knowledge, he makes morally sound decisions. Statius, like Arthur, and even Chaucer's Sir Thopas, reads for truth, even though he may err along the way to discovering it. This actively-seeking method of interpretation is rooted in a desire to rectify the ideal with the real, and vice versa.
Moreover, characters like Statius, Sir Thopas, and Arthur, are unencumbered by error not because they do not recognize their error, but because in their quest for the ideal, they consciously model their actions after the tenets of truth they do know--what they have "seen" or experienced. Spenser employs a "virtue-see, virtue-do" model for interpretation in his poetics as a means to train his reader how to discern truth in his text; this discernment is often guided by the actions and decisions of his characters. For Spenser, as opposed to Dante, the stakes are higher because he not only attempts to discuss virtue theoretically, but also to depict and exemplify its qualities and effects. Yet, in both cases, textual meaning is linked to a reader's ability to utilize the seen aspects of the text.
Importantly, for Augustine, unintended lessons may also be acquired by applying the extratexual to the text. For "if he [the exegete] is deceived in an interpretation which builds upon charity, which is the end of the commandments, he is deceived in the same way as a man who leaves a road by mistake but passes through a field to the same place toward which the road itself leads" (OCD 1.36). Here, in one of several road metaphors employed throughout On Christian Doctrine, Augustine suggests that while there is a path to meaning and truth, traveling a different path to these same ends does not imply errancy, but rather utility. In Augustine's terms, and, by proxy, Statius' example, if an interpretative mistake is incurred while using an interpretation that builds upon charity, then the mistake can be a starting point to interpretative action, not necessarily a stopping point. In this regard, charity is the boundary from serious error, the parameter within which any path is safe, though it may lie apart from the main road. Thus, avoiding mistakes should never come at the cost of textual exploration or contemplative interpretation.
Again, referring to the Arthur and Gloriana episode, Arthur exhibits an extended interpretative scope because of his encounter with Gloriana. Before he met Gloriana, Arthur tells Una how, "In middst of their [lovers'] mournfull Tragedy, / Ay wont to laugh, when them I heard cry" (FQ 1.9.10). He felt no connection or compassion for these lovers because he viewed love as an encroachment, rather than an expansion, of his liberty (FQ 1.9.10, 12). In the context of the passage, the "libertee" Arthur speaks of is a freedom from what he sees as love's shackles, yet this liberty can also refer to his freedom of interpretation--his ability to choose how he approaches a situation. Arthur recalls viewing himself as a superior interpreter because he did not engage with what he deemed the enslavement of love; until Gloriana, Arthur "[...] warded [oft] all [potential lovers] with wary government" (FQ 1.9.10).
Arthur limited his scope of knowledge by governing his passion in an attempt to privilege his rational mind. Though he may have kept himself from feeling the pain of love--from "those creeping flames by reason to subdew"--he also kept himself from the intellectual delights of love and the new capacity for virtue they disclose (FQ 1.9.9). Contact with her entails rarefied knowledge: "ne living man like words did ever heare, /As she to [him] delivered all that night" (FQ 1.9.14). Though upon waking he "[...] sorrowed all so much, as earst [he] joyd," his experience with Gloriana exposes him to previously unknown knowledge about love, virtue, and their connection. In some ways, this experience with love is exactly as painful as he thought it would be, but he does not seem to lose his interpretative agency, as he feared. Instead, through interpretation, Arthur is given the chance to transform possibly disturbing feelings into righteous motivation. And he takes advantage of this opportunity by developing and expanding upon the intellectual abilities he already possessed--the same intellectual abilities and strengths that once allowed him to ward off Cupid's many darts with his "wary government" have been harnessed to surrender to an alternative, multivalent, and potentially enlightening Cupid (FQ 1.9.10).
Once Arthur sees Gloriana and wakes to find her gone, yet imprinted in the grass, the remainder of his quest is seeking the unseen. That is, Arthur's only seen knowledge of Gloriana is in his mind. And, as he traverses Faerieland looking for her, his interpretative actions are those of utility. Any direction he chooses to take is based upon what he infers is related to what he knows or remembers of Gloriana. For Augustine, these readerly actions of utility--of textual exploration and travel--imply that textual meaning can be found in the more obscure places of the text that are revealed through the outward, seen ones. Augustine terms obscure Scripture passages that may not be the usual suspects when thinking of Biblical understanding; they are the places that, as Marchesi puts it, are "providentially preordained and functional to preserving the hermeneutic challenge and appeal of the text" (146). For Arthur, all of Faerie can be considered obscure text because though he is given a purpose for his travel--a destination--he is never given a path. This he must discern for himself. (14)
THOUGH these places of obscurity offer a reader both practice and insight, "Hardly anything may be found in these obscure places which is not found plainly said elsewhere" (OCD 2.6.8). For Augustine, these obscure places contain similar meanings as the overt ones, but they encourage exegetical exercise because they do not directly state their meaning. He views this interpretative exercise as a significant and beneficial part of exegesis because it maintains that the process of exegesis is self-fulfilling, in that the mere exercising and strengthening of this tool helps one make progress towards truth. In this sense, the text is "alive" because it not only sparks knowledge, but spurs interpretative action and exploration. The terrain, for Arthur, is constantly changing as he discovers paths to Gloriana, or the ultimate understanding of truth. As Hamilton's notes on the scene allude, one stage of Arthur's quest for Gloriana is complete with his aiding of Una, though it was not an intended plan (FQ 1.9.15 note 9). Upon completion of his tale, Una responds, "O happy Queene of Faries, that hast fownd / Mongst many, one that with his prowess may defend thine honour, and thy foes confound;" (FQ 1.9.16). Here, Una not only offers her blessing of Arthur's and Gloriana's love, but she praises and encourages his methods of inquiry and discovery. Arthur's "prowess" may immediately refer to his knightly abilities, but in the context of the scene, it may also refer to his interpretative prowess--Gloriana seeks him because he is skilled enough to seek her. These interpretative skills are what will reunite the pair.
Augustine's emphasis on the interpretative process of working through obscurity informs this conception of living language in that as an exegete seeks and discovers these less-seen, obscure textual places, the significances of the seen places change. Though the appearance of the text--its form--remains the same, the content refigures itself. In this sense, the text is alive because its meaning is in a constant state of movement. Ultimately, the text is alive and enriched by the exegete's virtuous and charity-guided participation with it--by the interpretation of literal and then figurative signs. Moreover, practice and lived experience strengthens the exegete's interpretive ability to make the text come alive.
Spenser contributes to and nuances this idea of living language, infusing the representations of his characters with a sense of "living art". In this infusion Spenser goes beyond Dante, for by Spenser's time many of the issues surrounding the use of the vernacular in poetry have been resolved in the works of poets like Chaucer. (15) For Spenser, what "replaces" these vernacular issues are those of representation, specifically the representation of virtue. Just as Dante sees the poetic limitations of using static, rule-encumbered language, like that of the grammatica, so, too, does Spenser seem to engage with the potential limitations of depicting virtue. Spenser nuances Dante's idea of living language by considering the limitations of representation, and, as a means of combating these limitations, introduces the element of teaching to his interpretative model; Spenser moves past commenting upon the limits of language and begins to train his reader to overcome these limitations that must come with depicting virtue, whether visually or linguistically. If one of the main ideas Dante takes from Augustine is that lessons can be learned from many sources, then Spenser adapts this premise and attempts to teach his reader how to reveal and employ these sources.
Una corrects Arthur's emphasis on the actions of the mind. When beginning his story of Gloriana, Arthur comments "Nothing is sure, that growes on earthly grownd," suggesting that one cannot trust something that comes from earthly, sensory beginnings. Before his revelation Arthur assumed this pertained to earthly love, specifically the loss of emotional and intellectual control that he associated with love (FQ 1.9.10-11). However, he proves that love may arise and be requited in various forms; this uncertainty, though it makes love suspicious, also creates opportunity, just as a text demands that a reader exercise interpretative skills in order to shape the response into something good and beneficial.
Una echoes such a sentiment when she corrects this earlier statement, suggesting that, "True Loves are often sown, but seldom grow on grownd" (FQ 1.9.16). Here, Una posits that though love may begin with earthly emotion, it is truly cultivated in the mind--as Arthur's love of Gloriana is cultivated. In a sense, she agrees with Arthur's earlier statement, but translates it to offer ways in which experiences with earthly love can prove beneficial in one's quest for knowledge. From a hermeneutic perspective, Una posits that meaning may begin with the seen, but only in the mind's contemplation of the seen will true knowledge be advanced. Una's statement places interpretative agency on the reader's ability to employ a process of signification that begins with exploration and discrimination, moves into recognition, and ends with contemplation. In this regard, Arthur can exercise choice and choose one meaning from the many, just as Gloriana exercised her interpretative choice and chose him from many worthy suitors (FQ 1.9.16).
It should be noted that Arthur's enactment of interpretation appears successful because he does not misconstrue what he sees of Gloriana as the whole of truth. That is, he does not meet Gloriana and stop interpretative action because he has found truth, but, rather, their encounter prompts him actively to seek truth. Because the boundaries of real and false were blurred in his dream-state, Arthur does not have to choose between the truth or fiction, and, as a result, is able to use both instances to fuel his quest for Gloriana. Arthur is able to entertain the many possible places that he can gain an understanding of her, including his memory. The closeness of reality and fantasy in Arthur's dream-state allows him to exist somewhere between reality and sleep, thus allowing him to unify the real and dreamt--the seen and the unseen--attributes of this ideal. As a result, for Arthur, Gloriana and her love is certain and real, though she appears to him in a dream. In this moment, she possesses the realness of the seen without the corporeality. Conversely, since her identity is withheld until she departs, she possesses the anonymity and obscurity of the unseen, along with the tangibility of the seen.
This dual role as both seen and unseen textual component speaks to the complexity of this episode, both for Arthur and the reader. In some ways, her location seems to dictate which role seen or unseen--she will possess. When she appears in a dream, she is seen, and when in reality, she is unseen. The reader, and Arthur, would expect the unseen to appear in the dream and the seen to appear in reality, yet, here, the two areas become blurred. In this merging, Arthur is exposed to a clearer version of his ideal. This is significant because Arthur is able to build upon both what he knows of Gloriana and what he desires to know. Such a practice suggests that, with regard to Gloriana, the unseen elements of her seen person are present in her existence and Arthur's memory of her; and both inform his knowledge of her. Again, Arthur, like the reader, can employ several different versions of unseen meaning to help him seek his glimpsed ideal.
Briefly returning to the proem to Book 2, we find that Spenser acknowledges the risk of misconstruing the seen as truth without ever working to consider the extent of the unseen. Specifically, when discussing the land of Faerie's fictional location Spenser recalls the:
Many great Regions [...] discovered, Which to late age were never mentioned. Who ever heard of th'Indian Peru? Or who in venturous vessel measured The Amazons huge river now found trew? Or fruitfullest Virginia who ever did yew?" (FQ 2.proem.2, my emphasis)
In these lines, Spenser questions the assumption that for something to exist, it must be seen, or empirically discerned, as suggested by the emphasized portions of his examples. Hermeneutically, such reliance on the solely seen--the solely literal--limits the interpreter to the sensory.
Furthermore, this empirical evidence referenced in the above passage appears to replace truth, rather than spur the interpreter to seek larger textual connections and meaning. Once the seen is revealed, it should motivate the interpreter to use memory and experience to seek the unseen places where meaning could exist, not be the end of the interpretative act. As Spenser suggests in these lines, the discovery of these once unseen places is the result of the "hardy enterprize" of seeking, to expand "that of the world least part to us is red" (FQ 2.proem.2.). The wordplay of "red" further highlights the importance of obscurity and ambiguity in the interpretative act, as the "man with better sence advize" acknowledges that most of the world is unseen, yet still exists (FQ 2.proem.2). That is, this "man with better sence" can accept that there are hermeneutically valuable unseen places and things, while one with "[...] some th'aboundance of an ydle braine" will view these unseen places as purely fictitious "painted forger[ies]" (FQ 2.proem. 1). And, as the word "advize" implies, this interpreter with "better sence" can find value in the unseen because s/he considers and reflects upon its significance (Hamilton note 157).
Though these earthly places immediately relate to British Imperialism and the Age of Discovery, the "hardy enterprize" of investigative actions are analogous to the action of interpretation. To extend the analogy, a reader, as an explorer, uses previously held knowledge of textual terrain to seek new locations, or regions, where meaning can exist. And, upon discovery, these previously unseen regions of knowledge urge the reader to contemplate the significance of these newfound locations, which sparks the reader's desire to seek more unseen locations--to "wonder much more, yet such to some appear" (FQ 2.proem.3). That is, discovering unknown textual places spurs the investigator to search for others; and such desire for exploration stems from the interpreter's exposure to some seen aspect of virtue--the revelation of an ideal. In the FQ, this exposure to an ideal comes in many variant forms and modes. Spenser's method of depiction urges a reader not to read these seen textual spaces solely as 'just memory" of historical characters and events. (16) Instead, these seen locations should inspire the "hardy enterprize" of interpretation that allows one to discover many great textual "Regions" (FQ 2.proem. 1-2).
For Spenser, as for Augustine, memory is not a collective, static artifact, but, rather, is an active, changing entity that shapes textual meaning and spurs interpretative action. For example, Arthur had to draw on his resources to interpret his vision of Gloriana; now this experience is itself a resource as a memory. When memory is experienced as a resource for beneficial interpretation, when it abets the rule of charity protecting open exploration from fatal error, choice and possibility are expanded--for the characters and readers.
With this interest in choice and multiplicity, Spenser attempts to use living art to combat the limits of expressing and depicting virtue. As previously suggested, Spenser's remedy for these limitations of representation is to depict several versions and characteristics of virtue (FQ 3.proem.4). In more general terms, Spenser offers many versions and instances of virtue in an effort to display the complexity of the virtue and provide many seen entrances to unseen textual space. And it seems that he desires his reader to use memory of former examples to develop a more complete, richer conception of the attributes of virtue and, ultimately, what virtue is as a whole. These instances are the places that encourage the reader to explore the unseen, or unrepresented aspects of the text; they are the places that spark a reader's memory of virtue, whether from past experiences or knowledge, and motivate the reader to draw upon it and explore both the unseen places of the text and the unseen places of the mind. Edifying reading is both an effect of virtue and a cause of it--or, more properly, an activation of it.
Such a method relates to the postreading experience Brian Stock identifies as the effect of teaching in Augustine's exegetical model. Stock comments, "Yet, in De Trinitate, Augustine does not discuss how the truths of scripture are communicated by reading and preaching, but how the student of Scripture gains some idea of 'blessedness' as a postreading experience. The 'enjoyment' that is unique to the trinity is concealed within the mind, just as for the exegete, it is concealed in scripture" (Augustine the Reader 245, my emphasis). Stock implies that joy and knowledge can both be an outcome of exegesis--and that this potential for joy and knowledge is contained in the mind of the exegete, not necessarily in the print of the text. That is, during interpretation, a reader reveals unseen textual meaning and, in turn, the text reveals previously unknown readerly reactions and connections. According to Augustine, emotions can be detached from an interpreter's memory, for "[...] memory also contains my feelings, not in the same way as they are present to the mind when it experiences them [...]" and if memory did contain the same kind of emotion "[...] there would be nothing remarkable in this if memory recalled only our bodily sensations, for the mind is one thing and the body another" (Confessions 10.14). As Augustine states, one can remember a feeling, but not experience it in the same way. That is, memory can become a resource, even if it is a memory of a feeling, which might disturb or distract. This allows the memory to be part of the interpretative process. Even though Arthur tells Una of his "secret wound," his retelling of Gloriana primarily relies upon Arthur's memory of her. And, his memory of her, even though it will burn in him until its heat evaporates the "living moysture" of his body, is what he stores in his "carefull mynd" so as "to seeke her out with labor, and long tyne" (FQ 1.9.8, 15). Even though he feels the pain of love, his memory of her, and, in turn, the ways he seeks her are facets of his heart and mind, not his heart alone. Perhaps the phrase "living moysture" gestures to Augustine's remarks on memory in the Confessions; fiery, emotionally fraught memory can be mitigated with the "living moysture" of a healthy, coolly and rationally functioning mind.
IN many regards, this "postreading" experience is what Augustine, and, later, Spenser identifies as contemplation--an action that encourages the reader to consider more than one possibility for meaning by considering the effects of his/her interpretative results. In this manner, signs appear to carry intention, whether human or divine, and, in turn, draw upon familiar realities or situations in order to express new meaning. Depending on how and when used, the presence of certain signs can deliberately lead a reader towards a specific meaning. For example, in the Confessions, Augustine's experiences serve as non-Scriptural entrances to Scriptural passages and understanding. He appears to extend what he sees as the benefits of obscurity into his own tale. An example of a non-Scriptural, obscure passage often associated with Augustine's own work is his conversion scene. In the Confessions, Augustine describes the completion of his conversion in great detail after reading a passage of Paul in Romans 13:13-14 (8.12). (17) Yet, in this vivid recollection of conversion, Augustine first finds himself underneath a fig tree where he "gave way to the tears which now streamed from my eyes [...]" finally succumbing to the stress of living two lives--an unseen Christian one in his heart and a seen non-Christian one in his everyday existence (8.12).
The fig tree reminds the reader of Biblical passages including the Fall as well as several New Testament scenes, including the parable where the fig tree that does not bear fruit is burned (Luke 13:6-9) and Christ's cursing of the fig tree that has leaves but bears no fruit (Matthew 21:19). Besides the link to Scripture, this reference to the fig tree reminds the reader of the more obscure pear scene as a commentary on the nature of sin and, now, conversion (2.6-8). In this pear scene, Augustine chooses to illustrate the nature of sin by confessing to stealing pears from a neighbor's orchard. This theft of a forbidden fruit can bring to mind for the reader Adam and Eve, reminding us that all are guilty because of the sin of the first parents. In effect, as Arthur's experience with Gloriana exhibits, the reader's memory, whether personal or textual, informs his/her current interpretative situation. But, as Augustine suggests, beneficially using ones memory is the product of exegetical practice.
This connection between the two tree scenes offers a fuller understanding of the nature of sin and conversion. Yet, these connections between scenes in the Confessions, as well as their links to Scriptural moments, are all produced by the reader. The more experienced the reader, the more exploration to be had, and the more connections and insight to be made. The fig tree in Augustine's conversion scene sparks a reader to consider the meaning of the pear tree scene from earlier in the text, and vice versa. Arguably, Augustine intends for this connection to be made so that the reader can achieve a fuller understanding of the text and the divine principles the text addresses--an understanding brought about by continued interpretation and contemplation.
Spenser seems to promote similar interpretative actions in his readers when, in the proem to Book 3, he resolves to portray Elizabeth's chastity in several characters, each encompassing a different attribute of her chastity. By considering the virtuous attribute, then contemplating how the actions of a character either uphold or undercut this focus, and, finally, considering how these actions and experiences relate to those of the other allegorical characters, Spenser's reader is able to understand the complexity of virtue from the actions and decisions of his characters. Spenser's portrayals and treatments of virtue rely upon the reader's ability to begin signification by working with specific, overt passages, characters, and actions, as well as more ambiguous, obscure ones. And it is this reliance that prompts Spenser to train his reader via the interpretative actions and choices of his characters. Just as the reader of Confessions who initially reads the pear scene in the context of sin, then, after the fig tree scene, considers sin in relation to conversion and confession, so, too, can Spenser's reader use earlier discussions and portrayals of virtue to inform later episodes.
Moreover, the idea that signification begins by sparking a recollection in the reader specifically relates to Augustine's conception of memory in the exegetical process. Memory, for Augustine, is "dynamic, constructive, predictive, constitutive of identity, the meeting place with other humans, and the pathway to God" (Wills, "Book" 195). Importantly, as Garry Wills highlights in this list, for Augustine memory is not a gesture of nostalgia, but a critical part of the exegetical act in that it helps one gain a sense of understanding--an understanding that is more complex and holistic than simply knowing. As Wills seems to emphasize with his own translation of the Confessions, in Augustine's paradigm, memory is a collection of past experiences and knowledge that can be joined with new experiences to fortify meaning:
From this store of things [memory] there are new and ever newer representations of my experiences, or of the things accepted in the past on the basis of trust. These I recombine with representations of the past to ponder future actions, their consequences and possibilities, all considered (once more) as present [...] And the minute I say [that I shall do this or that], from the vast treasure store of memory the representations of what I am describing are supplied at once--I could not say any of these things if the representations were not available to me. (10.8; see also Wills's Introduction, 14-15)
Here, Augustine directly links past experience with future action. As the exegete is confronted with "newer representations of experience", s/he "recombines" these new representations with past memories in an effort to gain a fuller understanding of past actions and incur motivation for future actions, all the while achieving insight into future actions.
Wills identifies this process of signification in Augustine's three presents--the present of past, the present of the present, and the present of the future--or recollection, observation, and anticipation ("Book" 202). For Wills, these presents occur in a series of stages "a) forming new and ever-newer representations of things by combining prior materials, then b) recombining (literally 'weaving into' contexo) these newly formed representations with old ones, then c) weighing various chains of actions in the broad range of possibilities now available to the mind" ("Book" 202). Wills's model of Augustine's stages describes an interpretive schema that begins with recollection and identification, moves into observation and contemplation, and ends in the anticipation of combining these seen insights with unseen meaning, which manifests itself as the interpreter's choice of possible viable locations to seek meaning. And, in this process of signification--of interpretation--the internal experiences of memory are continually and repetitively introduced to the more external events of experience.
From a literary perspective, these newer representations can be the seen places of the text that prompt the reader to consider past textual and personal experiences in relation to these representations--they are the repeated threads that unite seen textual meaning with its unseen potentials. Ultimately, a reader's use of memory is what expands textual borders and "repaints" textual landscapes of meaning. In the proem to Book 3, Spenser abstractly references this concept of memory when he claims that one simply "neede but behold" virtue in order to understand it. Paired with his resolution to depict multiple versions of virtue in the actions of various characters, Spenser seems to be training a reader to rely on his/her textual-memory to gain a fuller, more complete understanding of virtue (18).
These representations, though at times limited, prompt a reader to reconcile past experiences with new, emerging ones. In this sense, representation is only as limited as the reader's abilities to use memory to spur interpretative action and, in turn, understanding. If living art works from the premise that the text is living because it prompts interpretative action and learning, then this idea of memory as a moving, at times fleeting, collection of experiences suggests that the roles of art and memory are not mutually exclusive. Instead, though both are animated, each is a necessary part to accessing the complex nature of meaning. That is, a text is only as alive as its reader's ability to access his/her memory; and memory is only as alive as a reader's ability to use textual representations to access this past experience--the seen of the text sparks the unseen locations of memory, and vise versa.
In some ways the animation that living art provides a text with is a way in which Spenser can attempt to replicate or create Augustine's idea that Scripture is alive because of its ambiguities and obscurities. That is, meaning exists behind the seemingly one-dimensional, literal aspect of a text or signs. Living art brings the seen aspects of the text to the unseen messages/meanings via the reader's postreading experience of interpretation and contemplation. During postreading, the reader distinguishes between literal and figurative signs in an attempt to integrate what is known (even in memory) and what could be known. Moreover, with regard to Spenser's poetic project, the unseen, or unrepresented aspects of the text are the places that are sparked by the seen and, in turn, spark a reader's memory of virtue--whether from past personal or textual experiences and/or knowledge--and motivate the reader to explore both the unseen places of the text and the unseen places of the mind.
Augustine. Confessions. Trans. R. S. Pine-Coffin. New York: Penguin Books, 1961.
--. Confessions. Trans. Garry Wills. New York: Penguin Books, 2008.
--. Oil Christian Doctrine. Ed. D. W. Robertson. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1958.
DeNeef, A. Leigh. Spenser and the Motives of Metaphor. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 1982.
Marchesi, Simon. Dante and Augustine: Linguistics, Poetics, Hermeneutics. Toronto: U of Toronto P, 2011.
Nohrnberg, James. The Analogy of The Faerie Queene. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1976.
Spenser, Edmund. The Faerie Queene. Ed. A.C. Hamilton. New York: Longman, 2001.
Stock, Brian. After Augustine: The Meditative Reader and the Text. Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania P, 2001.
--. Augustine the Reader: Meditation, Self-Knowledge, and the Ethics of Interpretation. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard UP, 1996.
Stone, Gregory B. Dante's Pluralism and the Islamic Philosophy of Religion. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006.
Wills, Garry. "The Book of Memory." In Augustine's Confessions: Critical Essays. Ed. William E. Mann. Rowman & Littlefield, 2006, 195-208
Woodcock, Matthew. Fairy in The Faerie Queene: Renaissance Elf-Fashioning and Elizabethan Myth-Making. Burlington, VT: Ashgate Press, 2004.
(1) Dealing with Spenser's philosophy of hermeneutics, this article has a different focus from those discussing the workings of Spenserian allegory. Prominent examples would include Elizabeth Bieman, Plato Baptized: Towards the Interpretation of Spenser's Mimetic Fictions (Toronto: U of Toronto P, 1988); Kenneth Borris, Allegory and Epic in English Renaissance Literature: Heroic Form in Sidney, Spenser, and Milto (New York: Cambridge UP, 2000); Gordon Teskey, Allegory and Violence (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1996); Suzanne Lindgren Wofford, The Choice of Achilles: The Ideology of Figure in the Epic (Stanford: Stanford UP, 1992); Maureen Quilligan, The Language of Allegory. Defining the Genre (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1979).
(2) See also Elizabeth Mazzola, "The Implied Arthur: Mass Publics and Splintered Subjects in Spenser's Faerie Queene, Book 2," in Word and Image in Arthurian Literature: The Arthurian Yearbook, ed. Keith Busby (New York: Garland Press, 1996) 133.
(3) On the proems, esp. 2, see Deneef 102-12.
(4) On exploration and this passage see Jon A. Quitslund, Spenser's Supreme Fiction: Platonic Natural Philosophy and The Faerie Queene (Toronto: U of Toronto P, 2001) 70-75; Shannon Miller, Invested With Meaning: The Raleigh Circle in the New World (Philadelphia, PA: U of Pennsylvania P, 1998) 47.
(5) See Lesley Brill, "The Faerie Queene, Proems" Spenser Encyclopedia. 2nd ed. 1997.
(6) For different perspectives see for example Woodcock 96; Anne Ferry, The Art of Naming (Chicago: The U of Chicago P, 1988) 25-39; Robert Mueller, "'Infinite Desire': Spenser's Arthur and the Representation of Courtly Ambition" ELH 58:4 (1991): 747-71; Nohrnberg 55; Elizabeth Spiller, "Poetic Parthenogenesis and Spenser's Idea of Creation in The Faerie Queene," Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900 40.1 (2000): 70-73.
(7) See also Mihoko Suzuki, Metamorphoses of Helen: Authority, Difference, and the Epic (Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP 1992) 177.
(8) With relation to the distinction between fiction and truth, Augustine comments on his own memory: "From what point, by what path, have you led my memory to this, so that I include in my confession to you these great happenings, which I had forgotten and passed over?" (Confessions 9.7.16, my italics). Here, Augustine realizes that he has passed over the significance of a memory, identifies its importance, and, finally, he acknowledges the action of passing over. This scene identifies an ever--active interpretative mind, aware and seeking opportunities for interpretative moments. See also Stock, After Augustine 21.
(9) For discussions concerning Spenser and poetic anxiety, see for example David Lee Miller, "Spenser's Vocation, Spenser's Career," ELH 50 (1983): 197-231, esp. 197-99; Harold Bloom, The Anxiety of Influence: A Theory of Poetry (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1997) 34; John Guillory, Poetic Authority: Spenser; Milton, and Literary History (New York: Columbia UP, 1983) 24-36, 79.
(10) For further reading on Spenser and the dream-vision trope see Richard Denson Brown, The New Poet: Novelty and Tradition in Spenser's Complaints (Liverpool: Liverpool UP, 1999) 103-05; Judith Anderson. "Redcrosse and the Descent into Hell," ELH 36 (1969): 470-92. For more general discussions about dream-vision as a trope see A. Kent Hieatt, Chaucer, Spenser, and Milton: Mythopoeic Continuities and Transformations (Montreal: McGill-Queen's UP, 1975) 218-221 ; J. Stephen Russell, The English DreamVision: Anatomy of a Form (Columbus, OH: Ohio State UP, 1988) 200-02; Kathryn L. Lynch, High-Medieval Dream Vision: Poetry, Philosophy, and Literary Form (Palo Alto, CA: Stanford UP, 1988).
(11) Arthur's dream-vision echoes that of Chaucer's Sir Thopas and similarly probes where truth exists in fictions. See Craig A. Berry, "Borrowed Armor/Free Grace: The Quest for Authority in The Faerie Queene I and Chaucer's Tale of Sir Thopas," Studies in Philology 91 (Spring 1994): 136-66; Judith H. Anderson, "'A Gentle Knight was pricking on the plaine': The Chaucerian Connection," ELR 15 (1985): 166-74; Anthony M. Esolen, "The Disingenuous Poet Laureate: Spenser's Adoption of Chaucer," Studies in Philology 87 (1990): 285-311; Elizabeth J. Bellamy. Translations of Power: Narcissism and the Unconscious in Epic History. (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1992) 221. For relevant comment on Chaucer see John M. Hill. Chaucerian Belief: The Poetics of Reverence and Delight (New Haven: Yale UP. 1991) 21.
(12) On Gloriana, two articles are useful by Jeffrey P. Fruen: "The Faerie Queene unveiled?: Five Glimpses of Gloriana" Spenser Studies 11 (1990): 53-88; "'True Glorious Type'": The Place of Gloriana in The Faerie Queene" Spenser Studies 7 (1987): 147-98.
(13) For further discussion about Dante and living language see Maria Rosa Menocal, Dante's Cult of Truth: From Borges to Boccaccio (Durham, NC: Duke UP, 1991) 19-20, note 5; Umberto Eco, Serendipities. Language and Lunacy (New York: Columbia UP, 1998) 32-47; Giorgio Agamben, The End of the Poem: Studies in Poetics (Palo Alto: Stanford UP, 1999) 47-56. For a fuller understanding about the relationship between Spenser and Dante, see Carol V. Kaske, Spenser and Biblical Poetics (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1999) 58-60; John G. Demaray, Cosmic and Epic Representation: Dante, Spenser, Milton, and the Transformation of Renaissance Heroic Poetry (Pittsburgh: Duquesne UP, 1991) 195-99; Patrick Cheney, Spenser's Famous Flight: A Renaissance Idea of a Literary Career (Toronto: U of Toronto P, 1993) 3-33; Matthew Tosello, "Spenser's Silence About Dante," Studies in English Literature 1500-1900 17 (1977): 59-66.
(14) For the intrusion of reality, including that of history, into Spenser's idealized landscape, see Jacqueline T. Miller, "'The Status of Faeryland: Spenser's 'Unjust Possession,'" Spenser Studies 5 (1985): 31-44.
(15) See Esolen 287.
(16) Joseph Campana places Spenser's poetry against a backdrop of defenders of poetry, including Sidney, to argue that Spenser's conception of poetry privileges experience, however flawed, as opposed to polished re-creation. These corporeal experiences are, like Dante's living language, "alive" because they are used, not simply admired.
(17) See Leo C. Ferrari, "Paul and the Conversion of Augustine (Conf. 8, 12.29-30)," Augustinian Studies (1980): 5-20
(18) See Campana, "On Not Defending Poetry: Spenser, Suffering, and the Energy of Affect." PMLA vol. 120, no. 1 (January 2005): 33-48.
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|Title Annotation:||Edmund Spenser and Saint Augustine of Canterbury|
|Publication:||Renascence: Essays on Values in Literature|
|Date:||Sep 22, 2012|
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