Printer Friendly

Containing Petrarch with pastoral: Spenser's allegory of literary modes in Faerie Queene VI.

AS CRITICS HAVE LONG RECOGNIZED, Book VI of Edmund Spensers Faerie Queene features some of the most supremely metapoetic fictions in the entire poem. (1) In particular, critics have explored, on the one hand, the Petrarchan significances of Mirabella and Serena in cantos vii and viii and, on the other, the reemergence of pastoral in cantos ix and x. (2) However, a scholarly emphasis on the episodic structure of Book VI has prevented us from recognizing anything more than a loose connection between these meta-literary moments. (3) By charting the continuity between these self-reflexive episodes, I argue that Spenser represents a powerful tension between the Petrarchan and pastoral modes. In doing so, I build upon Colin Burrows observation that "The Faerie Queene lets different genres encounter, unsettle, and even assault each other." (4) While the sudden reemergence of pastoral in Book VI has been understood as just such an assault upon epic, I maintain that the conflict between pastoral and Petrarchism is similarly significant. (5) Through Calidore's courtship of Pastorella, Spenser exposes Petrarchism's characteristic violence against self and other, presents pastoral as a means to contain Petrarchan violence, and makes that containment fundamental to his epic conclusion. (6)

Although Petrarchism has proven to be an exceedingly flexible and even unwieldy term, it remains an essential category for understanding Spenser's participation in Elizabethan literary culture. (7) Petrarch's own literary career and its Renaissance reception are far from straightforward, (8) yet certain characteristics would become especially important for his English heirs: a complex discourse of subjectivity, often applied to the painful experience of unrequited love; an idealizing and frequently idolatrous representation of the beloved; and particular poetic devices like the blazon and paradox, profoundly associated with Petrarch though not originating with him. Above all, the thematic and formal division out of which Petrarch constructed his revolutionary poetic voice would become a touchstone, if not a roadmap, for future authors.

Petrarch presents this fragmentary form of writing as a necessary response to competing material and spiritual claims upon the individual--what Thomas Greene vividly describes as "the distractions of his clustered motives"--as well as to the cacophony of contradictory texts that comprise the theological, philosophical, and literary canons. (9) Many of Petrarchs imitators, though, seem to downright indulge in this "poetics of fragmentation." (10) Since Nancy Vickers's influential essay on the blazon, critics have emphasized the symbolic violence of the Petrarchan tradition. While Vickers focuses on the violent representation of the (almost invariably feminine) other, Cynthia Marshall has examined a corresponding species of "psychic fracture" that "replicates and prolongs the undoing of the ego or self, delivering jouissance through forms of wounding, penetrating, and dissolving." (11) Petrarchan poets exhibit an orgasmic incapacity for self-containment that subsequently produces pleasure for the reader by allowing him or her to experience vicariously this "shattering of the self." However, Marshall identifies Spenser as an outlier among Renaissance authors, based on the romantic fulfillment that closes his 1595 marriage volume, which suggests that he may be more wary of these self-shattering pleasures than many of his contemporaries and seeks instead to pick up the pieces left by Petrarchan poetry. (12) Throughout his corpus, Spenser attempts to resist the seductive dangers of Petrarchism, and he thematizes this struggle in Book VI.

Against the fragmentation and self-shattering violence of Petrarchism, Spenser sets an ethical poetics of containment. In the early modern period, self-containment was a cultural imperative undergirded by humoral, philosophical, and religious discourses. The perturbations of the passions were always potentially unsettling, but containment offered a means to minimize the risk of self-dispersal without denying the value of affective experience. (13) "Contain" could connote "enclose" or "hold in" and thus could be seen as an attempt to restrict the passions by impeding their flow--somehow clogging up the porous, "leaky" Galenic body. More modestly, though, "contain" suggests the ability to regulate the passions in such a way to "retain ... a certain state or order" and thereby "sustain" the self. (14) Such containment was both etymologically related to and conceptually intertwined with the positive affect of contentment. (15) The word "content" derives from the Latin confiriere and the past participle contentus, meaning "contained, limited, restrained, whence self-restrained, satisfied." (16) Comparable but by no means coequal to Stoic ideas of self-mastery and tranquility, containment and contentment are dynamic conditions requiring moral vigilance, emotional intelligence, and constant (re)attainment. Authors of the English Reformation in particular promote these values as an affective alternative to Calvinist despair, a way to balance "the disproportion between self and world" that Andrew Escobedo aligns with Protestantism. (17) For Spenser, the interwoven concepts of contentment and containment bear all of these broad cultural significances, but in Book VI he invests them with a distinctive metapoetic valence. Articulated by the Elermit and actualized in the shepherds' community, Spenserian containment combats Petrarchism.

In his pastoral cantos, Spenser presents contented containment as the antidote to and antithesis of Petrarchan fragmentation. Petrarch may be "unrepentant" in his depiction of powerfully unsettling emotions, but Spenser counters Elizabethan Petrarchism with pastoral and explores instead the psychological and artistic potentials of affective containment. (18) As a firmly established vehicle for ethical, religious, and cultural commentary, which George Puttenham famously describes as the "ability to glance at greater matters," pastoral lent itself as a medium to engage both Petrarchan poetics and early modern discourses of containment. (19) In practice, of course, the Petrarchan and pastoral modes were thoroughly intertwined by the late sixteenth century, owing in large part to the popularity of Jacopo Sannazaro's Arcadia and Spenser's own Shepheardes Calender. Within his allegorical narrative, however, Spenser is able to conceptually isolate these modes in order to parse out their points of contact and conflict. That is, although pastoral and Petrarchism can be treated as congruent or coincident, Spenser pits them against one another. In particular, the characters of Calidore and Pastorella become mechanisms by which Spenser can defuse a literary mode that threatens readers, writers, and pastoral itself. In the corresponding cantos, Spenser acknowledges the various assaults upon selfhood (from within and without) that attend early modern existence--and thus tacitly agrees with Petrarch--but he also attempts to defend against them. Spenser mitigates the threats of fragmentation and militates against a Petrarchism that has helped to perpetuate, and not merely express, those threats.

In the following section, I show how Spenser's representations of the Hermit, Mirabella, and Serena in cantos vi through viii introduce an urgent need for self-containment, particularly in the face of pervasive Petrarchan threats. (20) In the penultimate section, I examine Calidore's narrative from canto ix onward as continuous with the preceding cantos and their critiques of Petrarchism. Consequently, I analyze Calidore's entrance into Melibee's shepherd community and his wooing of Pastorella as an allegory of literary modes--a fictive representation of Spenser's own attempt to contain Petrarchism with pastoral. While decades of criticism have discussed Spenser's poetry with regard to "the transformation of power relations into erotic relations," I examine the erotic relation between Calidore and Pastorella as a figuration for the relationship between literary modes. (21) Finally, I situate Calidore's victory over the brigands and partial victory over the Blatant Beast in relation to Spenser's treatment of those modes and concerns about his own authorial legacy. Ultimately, my analysis complements our readings of Book Vi's individual meta-literary fictions, complicates common interpretations of its episodic structure, and causes us to revaluate the role of often-overlooked characters like Coridon and the brigand captain. Most importantly, I offer a new conceptual framework for understanding Renaissance literary modes, in which pastoral and Petrarchism make love and war perpetually in the work of the premier Elizabethan poet.


Spenser begins canto vi with the Hermit prescribing self-containment as a remedy for the wounds inflicted by the Blatant Beast. John Bernard calls this remedy "too vague to be useful," but, as we shall see, the Hermit introduces issues that will come to define many of the meta-literary sequences that follow.22 In this episode, which concludes with the first description of Mirabella, Spenser initially stresses that Serena and Timias's bodily wounds are merely signs and symptoms of the inward damage that the Blatant Beast and "infamy" have wrought upon them (vi.1.3). (23) When the Hermit realizes that the Beast's victims are "past helpe of surgery," Spenser registers the nature of the affliction with an insistent vocabulary of inwardness: "He found that they [the wounds] had festred priuily, / And ranckling inward with vnruly stounds, / The inner parts now gan to putrify" (5.2-4). To "rule the stubborne rage of passion blinde" (8), the Hermit provides "counsell to the minde" (9) and tells his patients that the only remedy, like the illness itself, lies "in your selfe" (7.1). The Hermit's prescription, however, consists of ways to moderate their relationship to the outside world. To heal the inner contents of the self, the wounded need to exercise their "outward sences" to "restraine" themselves and "containe" their "fraile affection" toward external goods (and evils) (7.6-9). (24) The Hermit's language suggests that Serenas and Timias's desires have led them to transgress the proper boundaries of the self. (25) Indeed, Spenser earlier states that the Hermit could apply "sage counsell" that "could enforme, and them reduce aright, / And al the passions heale, which wound the weaker spright" (3.7-9). A. C. Hamilton glosses "enforme" and "reduce" as "instruct" and "lead back," respectively, but the former word also means "form, shape, ... put into proper form or order," while the latter has the physical sense of "contract ... confine." (26) The Hermit seeks to reform and re-form his sickly auditors, using his counsel to confine them and teaching them to contain themselves. The Hermit's closing prescription, including the recommendation to "Abstaine from pleasure, ... / Subdue desire, ... / [and] Vse scanted diet" (14.5-7), constitutes an ongoing navigation of self and world, inside and outside. He reasserts the boundaries of the self, permeable though they may be, in order to protect the psychophysiological health of the individual and promote ethical engagement with society.

Spenser underscores the urgency of the Hermit's regimen of self-containment by stripping Timias of his name following the attack of the Blatant Beast--a unique variation on his standard naming practices in the poem. Timias is last named at VI.v.23.2, when Arthur rescues him from Defetto, Decetto, and Despetto. (27) From here onward, Timias is referred to only as the "Squire" (25.6), "that gentle Squire" (39.7), or some variant thereof. Timias experienced a similar obscuring of identity in Book IV after being spurned by Belphoebe: his Petrarchan abjection altered his appearance so profoundly that Prince Arthur failed to recognize him. (28) In Book VI, though, the narrator himself seems to be affected, failing to name the character for the remainder of the poem. This omission suggests that the assault of the Blatant Beast has compromised Timias's very identity. The character formerly known as Timias becomes blurry, a shadow of his former self and a figure for the "radical ontological instability" immortalized in Ovid's Metamorphoses and Petrarchs Canzoniere. (29) However, unlike Verdant in the Bower of Bliss, to whom Spenser restores a name after Guyon and the Palmer have separated him from Acrasia, despite the fact that his "braue shield, full of old moniments" had been "fowly ra'st, that none the signes might see" (II.xii.80.3-4), Timias never recovers this aspect of his textual identity.

Moreover, the elderly hermit through which the poet invokes self-containment is not only a moral exemplar and conventional character of chivalric romance, but also an author-figure, who recalls Spenser's own professed practices. Consequently, Spenser presents containment as a literary principle, in addition to a physiological and philosophical one. When faery pharmaceuticals fail him, the Hermit uses "the art of words," which he "knew wondrous well," in order to "frame" his "fit speaches" ( The Hermit's artful framing of his speech precipitates the formation of his audience, who he hopes to "enforme" and "reduce aright." In the Letter to Ralegh, Spenser similarly describes himself as having "fashioned" The Faerie Queene in order "to fashion a gentleman or noble person in vertuous and gentle discipline" (7-8). (30) For both the Hermit and Spenser, the "art of words"--whether in the form of "fit speaches" or a "continued Allegory" (Letter to Ralegh, 4)--has the power to remake readers and listeners. Serena and Timias require just such an artistic intervention; at the end of the prior canto, they "So faint and feeble were, that they ne might / Endure to trauell, nor one foote to frame: / Their hearts were sicke, their sides were sore, their feete were lame" (v.40.7-9). While the Hermit can craft full sermons in Spenserian stanza form, these characters can barely frame one lousy foot. Indeed, both "trauell" and "foote" echo their literary resonances from the first two stanzas of the Book's proem. (31) The violence wrought upon these characters by the Blatant Beast has rendered them unserviceable to Spenser's allegorical narrative, so the poet dispatches an authorial hermit to whip them into shape.

Furthermore, the methods of Spenser and the Hermit reflect broader early modern understandings of poetry as an instrument to manipulate affect for ethical ends--directing, inciting, and containing the emotions as necessary. In the Letter, Spenser explains the use of his "darke conceit" as a means of "pleasing" his readers and producing a "delight" that will encourage them to continue reading (4, 9, 10). The Hermit, too, applies his "art of words" for the emotional and moral education of his audience. However, while Spenser in the Letter to Ralegh seems most concerned with provoking pleasure with appropriate objects of delight, the Hermit's counsel centers on the complementary lesson of emotional moderation, of affective containment. This affective ideal does not deny the unsettling experience of the passions or outright reject a Petrarchan sense of fragmented selfhood so much as it sets out to repair the fragments as best as possible. Reflecting upon the difficulty of The Faerie Queene's nominal project in a post-Petrarchan literary climate, Greene observes, "The process of fashioning is frustrated by the inconsistency of the clay amid the quicksand of history." (32) Containment (and later contentment) fosters a more solid footing for Spenser's artistic objectives. More than a Schoenfeldtian form of self-fortification, containment accrues markedly literary significances. (33) The succeeding cantos provide an expanded gloss on the Hermit's prescriptive poetics, as Spenser situates the wounds of the slanderous Beast among problems of Petrarchism. (34)

Although the Petrarchan overtones of Mirabella and Serena's stories are well documented, it is helpful to consider briefly the contrast Spenser sets up between the Hermit's ideal of containment, on the one hand, and their distinctly Petrarchan fragmentation, on the other. The fullest realization of the cruel, willful Petrarchan mistress in Book VI, and perhaps in the entire Faerie Queene, Mirabella absolutely opposes containment. (35) While the Hermit had advised his patients to "bridle loose delight," the young Mirabella seeks only to "loue her owne delight" (VI.vii.30.9). The Hermit stressed the importance of individual willpower in curing the wounds of the Blatant Beast, but Mirabella perverts these qualities into a radical narcissism. The Hermit had hoped to "reduce" Timias and Serena, but Mirabella "grew proud and insolent" in self-love (29.1, emphasis added): "She was borne free; not bound to any wight, / And so would euer liue" (30.8-9). Because the "Ladie of her libertie" will not be "bound" (31.5), she recognizes no boundaries. She boasts about the power of her gaze--technically, just the "twinckle of her eye"--to "saue, or spill, whom she would hight" (31.6-8). Mirabella renders irrelevant the praise of her many admiring males, who "languish long in lifeconsuming smart, / And at the last through dreary dolour die" (31.3-4). Mirabella needs no idolaters, as she quite effectively idolizes herself, with stanza 31s description of her lethal, scornful beauty ending, "What could the Gods doe more, but doe it more aright?" (9).

Unfortunately for Mirabella, the gods answer this rhetorical question, and their punishment exposes her own failures of containment. She explains:
   Here in this bottle ...
     I put the teares of my contrition,
     Till to the brim I haue it full defrayd:
     And in this bag which I behinde me don,
     I put repentaunce for things past and gon.
     Yet is the bottle leake, and bag so torne,
     That all which I put in, fais out anon;
     And is behinde me trodden downe of Scorne,
   Who mocketh all my paine, and laughs the more I mourn.

Mirabella is sentenced to place her tears and repentance into the bottle and bag, respectively, emptying herself into containers of her sincere penance. However, just as she was ever unwilling to contain herself, the vessels cannot hold the contents of her "contrition." The same woman who once reveled in her ability to "spill, whom she would," and would not be "bound," now must watch as her tears spill out of the leaky bottle and as the bag behind her fails to retain the objects of her repentance. Quite literally, her penance cannot be fulfilled, and she becomes an icon of what Marshall terms self-shattering. Several readers have found Mirabellas plight a sympathetic one, as Arthur himself does, and for good reason. She does not choose the literary culture or conventions that shape her. She has Petrarchism thrust upon her. However narratively complicit Mirabella may be in the deaths of her two dozen suitors, she functions allegorically to indict the Petrarchan modes perpetuation of self-shattering violence.

In the depiction of Serena and the cannibalistic "saluage nation" (35.2), Spenser builds upon the meta-literary Mirabella episode by interrogating the Petrarchan pleasures opposed to self-containment. (36) While Mirabella epitomizes the violent fragmentation of the self, Serenas situation demonstrates the complementary crisis of Petrarchan violence toward the other. Spenser presents the victimization of Serena through a horrifying parody of the blazon, with the cannibals gazing at "Her yuorie necke, her alablaster brest, / Her paps," and so on (42.1-2). (37) By rendering this blazon from the perspective of the discourteous cannibals, he compels his readers to view such Petrarchan pleasure with suspicion, even as we may participate in that pleasure. More specifically, the blazon becomes the artistic antipode of containment, a poetic device fundamentally at odds with the ethical and literary doctrine of Spenser's Hermit. As in the story of Mirabella, though, Spenser stresses the sheer multitude of male figures implicated in the ritual violence, and this emphasis turns our attention to a broad cultural phenomenon, rather than the corpus of any one poet. Cantos vii and viii, then, do not damn Petrarch so much as they detail the problems that have sprung up in his wake.

If the Petrarchan problems depicted in these cantos were Book Vis final treatment of the subject, it might be fair to say that Spenser sought chiefly to undermine the Hermit's advice through counterexamples of selves in the process of fragmenting. Book VI would present self-containment buckling under the pressures and pleasures of Petrarchism.38 However, Spenser continues his engagement with Petrarchism in the pastoral cantos, where containment yields contentment--at least temporarily. In the process, Spenser adapts pastoral into a corrective to the violent and destabilizing effects of Petrarchism.


Although Spenser repeatedly scrutinizes Petrarchism in the cantos preceding Calidore's pastoral sojourn, and though the generic implications of Pastorella's name are almost too obvious to bear mention, scholars have not examined Calidore's courtship of Pastorella as an interplay between the Petrarchan and pastoral modes. (39) Many critics add Calidore's pursuit of Pastorella to their long lists of the knight's character flaws and allegorical shortcomings. (40) Others grant that Pastorella plays a role in Calidore's moral education, but they do not connect these aspects of Book VI to its meta-literary concerns about Petrarchism, even as they note verbal or thematic echoes across the cantos. (41) Spenser does not simply dismiss his own apprehensions about the troubling figures, language, and effects of Elizabethan erotic poetry that occupy cantos vii and viii. Instead, through pastoral, he once again takes up the Hermit's model of self-containment to tackle these Petrarchan problems head-on. Though Pastorella, as John Watkins suggests, "embodies a genre defined in explicit contrast to epic" more so "than any other figure" in the poem, she also becomes a means by which Spenser counters and contains Petrarchism, "the greatest threat to Spensers own Virgilian ambitions." (42)

Spenser prefaces Calidores courtship of Pastorella with an extended dialogue--one that Paul Alpers says "exemplifies the best of Spenserian and Renaissance pastoral"--effectively translating the Hermits ethic of containment into a pastoral representation of contentment. (43) In fact, the encounter between Calidore and Melibee includes five uses of the word "content" within only twelve stanzas, making it the densest use of the word in the entire poem. The prominence of the word is not in itself surprising, since contentment is a conventional conversation topic in pastoral literature, as critics have long recognized. (44) However, this particular instance of pastoral contentation takes on additional significance in light of the earlier cantos. For example, when Melibee invites Calidore to dine with him and his daughter, they "to it fell / With small adoe, and nature satisfyde, / The which doth litle craue contented to abyde" (ix. 17.7-9). This contented dining reflects the Hermits simple dietary advice. Calidore proceeds to praise the pastoral world and the lives of the shepherds, which in turn provides Melibee with an opportunity to elaborate on the nature of their contentment:
   If happie, then it is in this intent,
   That hauing small, yet doe I not complaine
   Of want, ne wish for more it to augment,
   But doe my selfe, with that I haue, content;
   So taught of nature, which doth litle need
   Of forreine helpes to lifes due nourishment.

Recalling the contentedness they experience after the meager supper, Melibee elaborates contentment through a metaphor of "nourishment." In contrast to Mirabella, who perpetually empties herself into faulty containers, and Serena, whose body is imaginatively dissected in preparation for religious cannibalism, the shepherds experience their contentment as a process of satisfying themselves with a small but sufficient supply of food. Melibee's simple virtues oppose the "enuy," "pride," and "ambition" of "great ones" that "downe themseules doe driue, / To sad decay, that might contented liue" (21.1, 22.2-5). Melibees account that "Me no such cares nor combrous thoughts offend" (22.6), resulting in an undisturbed "siluer sleepe" (8), contrasts with the restless night spent by Scudamour at the House of Care, with the Champion of Love described just before as having a "hart" of "gealous discontent" (IV.v.30.7-8). More immediately, Melibee's contented slumber is juxtaposed with Timias and Serena's insomnia after their encounters with the Blatant Beast. The shepherds' untroubled sleep and admirable eating practices suggest more broadly their proper relationship to the external world. The containment so painfully absent in the Petrarchan crises of Mirabella and Serena provides the foundation for Melibee's pastoral contentment.

Calidore's initial failure to comprehend Melibees species of contentment stems, at least in part, from his ulterior motive to woo Pastorella; however, rather than interpreting this as a strike against Calidore or Courtesy, we can identify Spenser initiating his allegory of literary modes.45 During this conversation, Spenser provides a glimpse at Calidore's interiority:
   Whylest thus he talkt, the knight with greedy eare
     Hong still vpon his melting mouth attent;
     Whose sensefull words empierst his hart so neare,
     That he was rapt with double rauishment,
     Both of his speach that wrought him great content,
     And also of the obiect of his vew,
     On which his hungry eye was alwayes bent;
     That twixt his pleasing tongue, and her faire hew,
   He lost himselfe, and like one halfe entraunced grew.

Spenser portrays a complex response to the auditory and visual stimuli of Melibee and Pastorella, respectively. Hamilton connects Calidore's "rauishment" and "his hungry eye" to the cannibals of canto viii, deducing that "Unlike Melibee, Calidore is not content with what he has." (46) If so, why does Spenser specifically use the word "content" to describe Calidore in line 5? Does Spenser simply seek to draw attention to the contrast between Calidore and Melibee, misapplying the word as Calidore himself misunderstands Melibee's position? The stanza's conclusion, with Calidore having "lost himselfe," clearly signals that his "double rauishment" does not match the self-containment advocated by the Hermit. However, I contend that Spenser's use of the word "content" alongside descriptions of a state that is clearly not contented registers Calidore as precariously poised between two psychophysiological conditions and literary modes, the pastoral and the Petrarchan. Melibee's pastoral sermon contents Calidore, while the knight's desire for Pastorella has a quite different effect, and this conflict pulls him apart "twixt his pleasing tongue, and her faire hew." The tensions between Calidore's responses and the interaction of the artistic modes that those responses represent form the spine of Spenser's literary allegory.

The first phase of Calidore's courtship of Pastorella is admittedly quite brief--he lasts a total of two stanzas before deciding to alter his apparel and approach--but Spenser significantly repeats language and imagery from his earlier treatments of Petrarchism in Book VI. For example, he describes Calidore "feeding on the bayt of his owne bane" (34.4), helpless against "the subtile bands" and "cruell hands" of "the blynd boy" (11.6-8). Similarly, Calidore's efforts "to quench his fire ... did it more augment" (34.9). Furthermore, Spenser's description of Calidore's "queint vsage" as "fit for Queenes and Kings" casts a sideways glance at the Petrarchan politics of the English court, and the term "queint vsage" itself may be less than flattering (35.2). Hamilton glosses the phrase as "elegant or refined behavior," but the adjective "quaint" could also mean "cunning" or "proud." In addition, the noun "quaint" refers to "the female external genitals" and is used several times by Spenser's Tityrus, Chaucer. (47) Elegant or refined behavior, indeed. Although Calidore is certainly innocent of assault in these stanzas, Spenser's language uncomfortably recalls the savages who "vew'd with loose lasciuious sight" Serena's "daintie parts, the dearlings of delight" (viii.43.1-3). Inappropriately applying the Petrarchan paradigms critiqued in the foregoing cantos, Calidore must undergo the modal transformation befitting of his shepherdly surroundings. For Calidore and Spenser alike, to make Petrarchism more palatable, they must make it more pastoral.

Perhaps paradoxically, Spenser initiates this process of containment with Calidore's removing of his armaments. Calidore decides "To chaunge the manner of his loftie looke; / And doffing his bright armes, himselfe addrest / In shepheards weed, and in his hand he tooke, / In stead of steelehead speare, a shepheards hooke" (ix.36.2-5). Though readers will inevitably remember earlier, troubling scenes of disarming, most notably that of Redcrosse Knighte in I.vii, Spenser more recently recalls the Hermit, who hung "vp his armes and warlike spoyle" when weary "Of warres delight, and worlds contentious toyle" (v.37.6-8). Moreover, Calidore had doffed his arms less conspicuously about twenty stanzas prior, when Melibee "him besought himselfe to disattyre, / And rest himselfe, till supper time befell" (ix.17.3). In removing his armor, Calidore not only sets aside the sumptuary symbols of epic romance but also shifts away from the Petrarchism that Spenser had identified as so integral to courtly culture. Camille Paglia argues, "Personality in Spenser is armoured, an artifact of aggressive forging": "Armour is the Spenserian language of moral beauty, signifying Apollonian finitude and self-containment." (48) However, the Hermit outlines an alternative means of self-containment that Melibee models in a life of pastoral contentment. By bookending the plights of Mirabella and Serena with these exempla, Spenser suggests pastoral's potential to contain and correct Petrarchism.

In addition to Calidore's wardrobe change, Spenser disarms the would-be lover, tempering the dangerous prospect of Petrarchan male aggression. As long as Calidore remains content, his passions are no threat to Pastorella or himself. Calidore exchanges his "steelehead speere" for "a shepheards hooke," but this substitution does not leave the hero defenseless. When a tiger attacks Pastorella near the end of canto x, Calidore uses his trusty sheep-hook to decapitate the beast with apparently little effort. Like Sidney's young protagonists in The Old Arcadia, Calidore can prove his valor just as easily in the fields of pastoral romance as in the battlefields of chivalric romance. (49) Calidore's skirmish also recalls 1 Samuel 17:34-36, in which David cites his previous experiences of killing lions and bears to protect his father's sheep as evidence for his ability to defeat Goliath. The allusion links Calidore to a biblical figure for both pastoralism and poetic authorship (by way of the Psalms), and it anticipates the epic combat of cantos xi and xii, as well as the knight's eventual erotic fall.

Similarly, Spenser uses pastoral to revise the conventional Petrarchan hierarchies that undergird both the self-shattering discontent of Mirabella and the savage nation's idolatrous desire for Serena. In Colin Clouts Come Home Againe (1595), Spenser had critiqued such conventions by targeting Queen Elizabeth's Petrarchan courtiers, who "do themselues for want of other worke, / Vaine votaries of laesie loue professe" (765-66). These courtiers wrongly invoke Love's "ydle name," for "him they do not serue as they professe, / But make him serue to them for sordid vses" (789-92). By contrast, Calidore must demonstrate his devotion through actual labor on behalf of his mistress:
   So being clad, vnto the fields he went
     With the faire Pastorella euery day,
     And kept her sheepe with diligent attent,
     Watching to driue the rauenous Wolfe away,
     The whylest at pleasure she mote sport and play;
     And euery euening helping them to fold:
     And otherwhiles for need, he did assay
     In his strong hand their rugged teats to hold,
   And out of them to presse the milke: loue so much could.

Sir Calidore must humble himself and perform the chores of a shepherd, not simply dress as one. (50) Spenser captures the significance of these simple, affectionate tasks in the final monosyllabic line, ending "loue so much could." Furthermore, the "diligent attent" with which he keeps the sheep aligns him with the righteous shepherds of the Calender and Colin Clout. Finally, though Spenser identifies Calidore's labors as a form of "seruice" to Pastorella (x.32.6), we might note that they are the very tasks that Pastorella herself would normally perform. Content to embrace pastoral life with its "paines" and "perill" (32.7), Calidore labors to establish a more equal relationship between himself and Pastorella.

To highlight Calidore's progress in containing Petrarchism, Spenser includes Coridon as a rival lover and foil. Whereas Calidore starts out a Petrarchan knight who comes to exercise self-containment through pastoralization, Coridon is a conspicuously pastoral character whose Petrarchism is increasingly registered in terms opposed to contented self-fortification. Like Melibee, Coridon's name comes directly out of the pastoral tradition, with classical precedents in Theocritus's fourth Idyll and Virgil's second Eclogue. However, the first mention of Coridon in canto ix casts him specifically in the role of the unrequited lover, recalling not only the rejected lover from Virgil but, more immediately, the Petrarchan lovers of Book VI. Coridon "burnt in" Pastorella's "loue" and experienced a "sweet pleasing payne," causing him to "languish, and his deare life spend," like Mirabella's myriad deceased suitors (ix.10.3,6). As Calidore and Pastorella grow closer, Coridon channels his Petrarchan pains into forms of self-cannibalism:
   And euer when he came in companie,
     Where Calidore was present, he would loure.
     And byte his lip, and euen for gealousie
     was readie oft his owne hart to deuoure,
     Impatient of any paramoure.

Coridon's experience of jealousy as eating his own heart recalls the troubles of Redcrosse Knight (I.ii.6.3) and Scudamour (, while in biting his lip Coridon imitates the allegorization of "gnawing Gealosy" outside the gates of Pluto and the Cave of Mammon (II.vii.22.4-5). Moreover, Coridon perpetuates a violence against himself akin to the rituals of the savage nation and to the corrosive bites of the Blatant Beast. Coridon is not simply consumed by desire but literally consumes himself, and this passionate self-cannibalism perverts the pastoral associations between contentment and nourishment that inform the interaction between Melibee and Calidore.

Furthermore, Coridon's Petrarchan discontent isolates him from the recreative community of pastoral song: (51)
   then did they [the shepherds] all agree,
     That Colin Clout should pipe as one most fit;
     And Calidore should lead the ring, as hee
     That most in Pastorellaes grace did sit.
   Thereat frownd Coridon, and his lip closely bit.

Although critics tend to remember Colin Clout in Book VI primarily through his presence on Mount Acidale in canto x, our initial images of Spenser's pastoral persona within The Faerie Queene showcase his artistic contributions to the larger shepherd community. When first wooed by Calidore, Pastorella "cared more for Colins carolings" (35.7), and Colin here pipes for the shepherds as Calidore leads them in dance. Coridon's lack of romantic fulfillment, however, locks him into gestures of self-cannibalism and a state of misanthropy. The default Petrarchan paradigm of poet-lover and idolized beloved leaves little room for other relationships. (52) Colins service to the community, at odds with the lovesick shepherd's boy of the Calender, throws Coridon's discontent into further relief. Coridon has effectively displaced Colin as the narcissistic, unrequited lover. As much as critics like to stress Calidore's condescension toward Coridon, it is only through Calidore's efforts that Coridon is brought back into proper relationship with society. (53) Calidore's sojourn among the shepherds has repeatedly been described as a process of withdrawal, but Spenser actually integrates the character into a community far more than the conventional dynamics of Petrarchan poetry--or the unusual strictures of his own epic quest--would normally allow. (54) Through "courteous inclination" (42.1), the pastoralized knight is able to salve the self-inflicted wounds of the increasingly suffering Petrarchan shepherd Coridon, who "earst seemed dead" (9), and to restore his relationship with the community.

After Calidore rescues Pastorella, the shepherdess began to "Coridon for cowherdize reiect, / Fit to keepe sheepe, vnfit for loues content" (x.37.3-4), a line that Nancy Lindheim recoils from as "simply astonishing" within Spenserian pastoral. (55) Alpers argues that the "last line in effect renounces pastoral, whose claim on us is precisely the acknowledgment that our condition in love, as in other fundamental human situations, can be represented by keepers of sheep." (56) He proceeds to claim that "Coridon fails to be a pastoral figure (and Spenserian pastoral fails the rustic)" because Coridon does not lead Calidore (nor, presumably, the reader) to "reconsider what he is and what he values." (57) In other words, Coridon is a shepherd sheared of pastoral significance. While Coridon does indeed fail as a pastoral figure, that failure is not a momentary one expressed in these lines, but the conclusion of his process of Petrarchan self-violence, the culmination of his jealous discontent. As Alpers explains, Coridon's successful completion of a rustic activity ("Fit to keepe sheepe") does not necessarily indicate his success as a literary pastoral figure. Correspondingly, Coridon's failures as a lover ("vnfit for loues content") fit with his realization of the Petrarchan mode, insofar as erotic frustrations characterize its representative anecdote. (58) If we interpret line 4 with reference to the larger relationship between pastoral and Petrarchism in Book VI, we can see that the second half of the line not only suggests the failure of a pastoral figure, but it identifies Petrarchism as the cause of that failure. Coridon fails as a pastoral figure insofar as he comes to represent a Petrarchan one, and he consequently cannot experience contentment. Calidore's Petrarchan features are contained by pastoral, but Coridon loses his pastoral self to Petrarchism. Though Coridon may seem comically inept and ancillary, he serves both as the spiritual successor of Colin Clout's romantic discontent and as a foil for the containment process enacted by Calidore.

However, Calidore's Petrarchism resurfaces late in canto x:
   So well he woo'd her, and so well he wrought her,
     With humble seruice, and with daily sute,
     That at the last vnto his will he brought her;
     Which he so wisely well did prosecute,
     That of his loue he reapt the timely frute,
     And ioyed long in close felicity:
     Till fortune fraught with malice, blinde, and brute,
     That enuies louers long prosperity,
   Blew vp a bitter storme of foule aduersity.

The mutuality gestured toward during the courtship all but vanishes, as Calidore's "humble seruice" becomes little more than the means to fulfill a sexual end. "Till" in line 7 indicates not only temporality but causality. The romance language of "fortune" should not prevent our recognition of Spenser's causal language of allegory: the brigands arrive and destroy the pastoral community because of Calidore's disruptive desires and Petrarchism gone wild. (59) As with Timias earlier, who remained an unnamed figure of his former self, Spenser admits the limitations of self-containment. When Calidore's actions exceed the strictures of pastoral contentment, Pastorella suffers at the whim of a "Fortune not with all this wrong / Contented" (xi.2.5-6). She becomes the "spoile" of both Calidore (x.35.8) and the brigands (40.7).

The meta-literary significance of the brigands is perhaps most evident in the character of the criminal captain, whose "barbarous heart was fired, / And inly burnt with flames most raging whot" upon seeing Pastorella with his "lustfull eyes" (xi.4.1-2, 3.7). His attempts to woo her "With looks, with words, with gifts," though "mixed [with] threats among," recall Calidore's quaint usage at the beginning of his courtship (4.8-9). Pastorella successfully manages the captains lustful desires to preserve herself from rape and murder, and the captain defends her from the rebellious brigands, who fight "as a sort of hungry dogs" (17.1). In the chaos, "All on confused heapes themselues assay, / And snatch, and byte, and rend, and tug, and teare," with the reflexive pronoun suggesting both their in-fighting and self-violence (5-6). Ultimately, these brigands both emulate the doglike Blatant Beast and externalize Calidore's Petrarchism, which ravishes the shepherds, distances him from Pastorella, and threatens the very fabric of pastoral poetry. Calidore's inability to contain his desires in the contented manner described by Melibee proves to be pastorals undoing.

Sort of. Critics have rightly emphasized the devastation of the pastoral world in these final cantos. (60) The description of Pastorella "couered with confused preasse / Of carcases" (20.1-2) is certainly one of the most disturbing images in the entire Faerie Queene. Melibee and his wife are killed, and almost everyone else with them. We can only hope that Colin was still on Acidale at the time of the attack. However, I suggest that Calidore's Petrarchan relapse and the confrontation that follows is productive within Spenser's allegory of literary modes. The episode allows the author to maintain the value of self-containment, even as he admits the powerful persistence of desire. Through Calidore's defeat of the brigands and his rescue of Pastorella, Spenser represents the hero's confrontation with his own Petrarchism and completes Book VTs sustained engagement with its conventions in order to advance his epic project. (61)


Calidore does not forever forsake his epic obligations or his Petrarchan heritage, but he does revise them through pastoral. (62) To rescue his beloved, Calidore conceals his knightly accoutrements under his shepherd's garb. With courtly Petrarchan armor underneath his pastoral attire, Calidore shares a certain affinity with Colin Clout's artistic creation on Mt. Acidale, a pastoral world with a deep and powerful eros at its very center, signaled by the presence of Colin's beloved among the Graces. But unlike Colin's vision, which is one of the poem's "fragile and private myths of seclusion," and which is ostensibly isolated to this paramount locus poeticus, Calidore with his armor and shepherd's weeds is able to go out into the world and resume his epic role, saving Pastorella and completing his quest. (63) Instructed by both Melibee and Colin Clout, with whom he passed "Long time" in courteous conversation "With which the Knight him selfe did much content" (x.30.2-3), Calidore is finally able to convert his private vision into public virtue. In doing so, he translates individual self-fortification and an ethic of pastoral contentment into martial valor on behalf of his beloved and a species of action more appropriate to epic poetry. In this way, Spenser both reinforces pastoral contentment as a counter to Petrarchism and makes it instrumental to the completion of the 1596 Faerie Queene.

Over the course of canto xi, Spenser subtly registers Calidore's progression and the poem's return to epic expectations through details in the knight's armaments. In addition to the pastoral clothing that he initially uses to infiltrate and combat the Petrarchan brigands, Calidore first acquires a "sword of meanest sort" (42.6), with its meanness more closely approximating the "rudest breeds" of shepherds he has dwelt among and, by extension, the lowness associated with pastoral in dominant literary career models of the English Renaissance (ix.45.5). Calidore doesn't quite beat plowshares into swords, but Spenser suggests something of that nature. However, after fending off the first wave of brigands, Calidore finds a "sword of better say" (xi.47.5). The sword's "say" certainly indicates its superior temper of metal, a definition for which the OED cites this line as its only example, but it also carries at least a hint of its linguistic connotations, with the noun "say" available as a term for "What a person says; words as compared to actions." (64) The better say of the sword corresponds with Calidore's heroic fulfillment, and Spenser's authorship, of a higher literary style. With an appropriately epic weapon, Calidore dispatches the swarms of thieves, whom Spenser compares to "the many flyes in whottest sommers day / [That] Do seize vpon some beast, whose flesh is bare, /.../ And with their litle stings right felly fare" (48.1-4). Hamilton identifies this epic simile as an adaptation of I.i.23--only the second epic simile in the whole poem--in which Spenser likens the annoying assault of Errour's brood to "a cloud of cumbrous gnattes" that "molest" a "gentle Shepheard." I suggest further that this later simile typologically fulfills the former. By revising this epic simile and its pastoral imagery from the Redcrosse Knight's very first combat, Spenser marks Calidore's ascent to the role of triumphant Protestant epic hero, able to rescue and even resurrect Pastorella. In a sense, Calidore himself has overcome error, and Spenser has displayed the dangers of Petrarchism run rampant. In completing the allegory of literary modes, canto xi provides the epic conclusion to Book VI.

Of course, there are twelve cantos in Book VI, and the final canto comments wryly upon the epic conclusion that precedes it. Calidore's encounter with the Blatant Beast in an isolated monastery "reiterates his earlier withdrawal into the pastoral world," as Joshua Phillips notes, such that the completion of his epic task recalls the allegory of literary modes in the preceding cantos. (65) Furthermore, insofar as the Beasts method of attack recalls the cannibal nation and the hungrily doglike brigands, and its wounds resemble the effects of love in this and other poems, the monster relates not only to slander but also to the desires linked in Book VI to Petrarchan poetics. Now that Spenser has contained the problems of Petrarchism, Calidore can muzzle the Beast and restrain him with "a great long chaine" (xii.34.8). But the Beast cannot be eliminated, and its containment is only temporary. It eventually escapes through the "fault of men" (38.8), and though Spenser does not attribute blame to Calidore in his closing stanzas, his partial success further qualifies the containment professed by Melibee and the Hermit. Moreover, Spenser has also qualified pastoral by showing that, even among shepherds, life can be poor, nasty, brutish, and short, though only in some cases solitary. Even so, pastoral is not lost. The shepherd community persists with Coridon and his surviving sheep. More importantly, on his path to epic fulfillment, Calidore has incorporated characteristics of pastoral into his literary identity. Desire may still cry out for food, and Spenser may even admit the inevitability of a Petrarchan snack from time to time, but this only makes the need to "Vse scanted diet" all the more pressing, lest it consume the self, other, and author entirely.

Taken collectively, the metapoetic episodes in Book VI comprise one of Spenser's final commentaries on the artistic modes that defined his authorial career and Elizabethan literary culture. As Spenser's thematization of Petrarchism and pastoral suggests, the relationship between the two is marked by tension, conflict, and competition, even though (or perhaps because) they had become so thoroughly intertwined. Through his literary allegory, Spenser seeks to reconcile these modes, for he acknowledges the strengths, shortcomings, and seductions of each. His attempt at reconciliation--his intervention in Renaissance literature to contain the more hazardous features of Petrarchism--meets with some success, as he represents in Calidore's victory over the brigands, his short-lived reunion with Pastorella, and his temporary triumph over the Blatant Beast. If history has the potential to repeat itself and Spenser's epic may yet be subject to "venemous despite" and "a mighty Peres displeasure" like the authors "former writs" (41.1-6), then it is also possible that the Beast can be bested once more.

In this final canto, Spenser's wrestling with Petrarchism gives way to broader concerns about the aftermath of his own authorship. The confrontation between Calidore and the Beast serves as a fitting conclusion to Spenser's treatment of literary modes, but it also allows him to shift the focus from his poetic predecessors to projected successors. When Calidore looks into his foe's mouth, he observes that it "seemd to containe" not just "yron teeth," but "a thousand tongs" that "spake reprochfully" and "spake licentious words, and hatefull things" (26.5-7, 27.1, 8, 28.5). Attacking with speech acts, the creature evokes Errour, with its "vomit full of books and papers" from its "filthie maw" (I.i.20.6, 1), and thereby complements the allusion to that battle in the preceding canto. At the same time, the Beast conjures up the poet Malfont/Bonfont, who is punished for "bold speaches," "lewd poems," and generally being "a welhed / Of euill words, and wicked sclaunders" (V.ix.25.6-7, 26.8-9). Critics rightly interpret the Blatant Beast with respect to Spenser's anxiety about how readers (including but by no means limited to Lord Burghley) had responded and might continue to respond to his work.66 Yet the Books treatment of Petrarchism makes abundantly clear that readers can go on to become writers, revisers, poets. Although the Beast bears some passing resemblances to Petrarchism in particular, it is better understood as the sum total of one's literary legacy, with all the criticism, imitators, and influence that entails. The Beast's many voices make up a cultural conversation that can speak, shatter, flatter, and versify in languages and words unknown to an originating author. It is a powerful source of potentially endless creative expression, but it can also be fearful. To the extent that Spenser shares--or at least had shared in the past--Petrarch's laureate ambitions, he recognizes the thin line between fame and infamy, as well as the price of ubiquity. If he still wants his legacy to gain momentum, then he also sees the risk of it running out of control. At the very least, he understands that he might be shaping future generations of authors, for better and for worse. Early in his career, such a fate was devoutly to be wished, but by the mid-1590s the prospect may have morphed into something a bit more monstrous. As The Faerie Queene's final combat suggests, it is simultaneously an object worthy of pursuit and a threat that must be contained.

McDaniel College


I am indebted to Patrick Cheney, Ryan Hackenbracht, Joseph Parry, and Garrett Sullivan for their insightful comments on this essay. I would also like to thank the editors and staff of Philological Quarterly.

(1) Patricia Parker calls the Legend of Courtesy "a highly literary legend," and Humphrey Tonkin describes it as a "poem talking about itself." See Parker, Inescapable Romance: Studies in the Poetics of a Mode (Princeton U. Press, 1979), 10; and Tonkin, Spenser's Courteous Pastoral: Book Six of the Faerie Queene (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972), 142. See also John D. Bernard, Ceremonies of Innocence: Pastoralism in the Poetry of Edmund Spenser (Cambridge U. Press, 1989), 141; Elizabeth Jane Bellamy, "Colin and Orphic Interpretation: Reading Neoplatonically on Spensers Acidale," Comparative Literature Studies 27 (1990): 172; Derek B. Alwes, '"Who Knowes Not Colin Clout?': Spensers Self-Advertisement in 'The Faerie Queene' Book 6," MP 88 (1990): 30; Robert E. Stillman, "Spenserian Autonomy and the Trial of New Historicism: Book VI of The Faerie Queene," ELR 22 (1992): 299-314; and Richard McCabe, Spenser's Monstrous Regiment: Elizabethan Ireland and the Poetics of Difference (Cambridge U. Press, 2002), 233.

(2) Heather Dubrow describes Mirabella and Serena as complementary characters, "for the Petrarchan victimizer who scorns her lovers is the alter ego of the Petrarchan victim who represents as well the dangers of idolatry in the religion of love." See Echoes of Desire: English Petrarchism and its Counterdiscourses (Cornell U. Press, 1995), 259. On the characters' shared Petrarchan significance, see also Harry Berger, Revisionary Play: Studies in the Spenserian Dynamics (U. of California Press, 1988), 226; and Richard Mallette, Spenser and the Discourses of Reformation England (U. of Nebraska Press, 1997), 188. For Petrarchan readings of the characters individually, see below.

(3) The tendency to isolate the pastoral cantos from the preceding narrative and allegory is apparent in both full-length studies of Book VI: Arnold Williams, Flower on a Lowly Stalk: The Sixth Book of the Faerie Queene (Michigan State U. Press, 1967), 17; and Tonkin, Spenser's Courteous Pastoral, 112. See also Parker, Inescapable Romance, 101-12. J. C. Maxwell labels the entire Book's structure "episodic," in "The Truancy of Calidore," ELH 19 (1952): 143-44. Like Jacqueline Miller, I contend that the "pastoral interlude ... actually continues and in fact intensifies what has come before," and I locate the significance of this continuation in the Book's treatment of literary mode. See Miller, "The Courtly Figure: Spenser's Anatomy of Allegory," SEL 31 (1991): 58-59.

(4) Colin Burrow, "Spenser's Genres," in The Oxford Handbook of Edmund Spenser, ed. Richard A. McCabe (Oxford U. Press, 2010), 411.

(5) McCabe writes, "the unprecedented reversion to pastoral in book six signals no less than a radical reappraisal of the epic enterprise" (Monstrous Regiment, 233). See also Leigh DeNeef, "Ploughing Virgilian Furrows: The Genres of Faerie Queene VI," John Donne Journal 1 (1982): 151-66.

(6) Jonathan Crewe discusses "Spenser's embedding and dissemination of Petrarchan codes in pastoral," particularly in the Serena episode. However, though he details the canto's compelling critique of Petrarchism, he does not sufficiently examine what in particular the pastoral mode is able to perform for Spenser, nor does he link it to the even more overtly pastoral content of the cantos that follow. See Crewe, "Spenser's Saluage Petrarchanism: Pensees Sauvages in The Faerie Queene," Bucknell Review 35 (1992): 89.

(7) For example, see Dubrow, Echoes of Desire: Lauren Silberman, Transforming Desire: Erotic Knowledge in Books III and IV of The Faerie Queene (U. of California Press, 1995); Joseph Loewenstein, "Spenser's Retrography: Two Episodes in Post-Petrarchan Bibliography," in Spenser's Life and the Subject of Biography, ed. Judith H. Anderson, Donald Cheney, and David A. Richardson (U. of Massachusetts Press, 1996), 99-130; and Joseph Campana, The Pain of Reformation: Spenser, Vulnerability, and the Ethics of Masculinity (Fordham U. Press, 2012), 163-203.

(8) See William Kennedy, Authorizing Petrarch (Cornell U. Press, 1994); and "Versions of a Career: Petrarch and His Renaissance Commentators," in European Literary Careers: The Author from Antiquity to the Renaissance, ed. Patrick Cheney and Frederick A. de Armas (U. of Toronto Press, 2002), 156; and Karl Enenkel and Jay Papy, "Introduction: Towards a New Approach of Petrarch's Reception in the Renaissance--the 'Independent Reader,'" in Petrarch and His Readers in the Renaissance, ed. Karl A. E. Enenkel and Jan Papy (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2006), 1-12.

(9) Thomas M. Greene, "The Flexibility of the Self in Renaissance Literature," in The Disciplines of Criticism, ed. Peter Demetz, Thomas M. Greene, and Lowry Nelson Jr. (Yale U. Press), 246. See also John Freccero, "The Fig Tree and the Laurel: Petrarch's Poetics," Diacritics 5 (1975), 34; Peter Hainsworth, Petrarch the Poet: An Introduction to the Rerum vulgarium fragmenta (Routledge, 1988), 99, 155; Teodolinda Barolini, "The Making of a Lyric Sequence: Time and Narrative in Petrarch's Rerum vulgarium fragmenta" MLN 104 (1989): 2-3; Roland Greene, Post-Petrarchism: Origins and Innovations of the Western Lyric Sequence (Princeton U. Press, 1991), 17-18; Giuseppe Mazzotta, The Worlds of Petrarch (Duke U. Press, 1993), 9, 78-79, 98; and Joseph Parry, "Petrarch's Mourning, Spenser's Scudamour, and Britomart's Gift of Death," Comparative Literature Studies 42 (2005): 26-28, 31.

(10) Mazzotta, The Worlds of Petrarch, 60.

(11) See Nancy Vickers, "Diana Described: Scattered Woman and Scattered Rhyme," Critical Inquiry 8 (1981): 265-79; and Cynthia Marshall, The Shattering of the Self: Violence, Subjectivity, and Early Modern Texts (Johns Hopkins U. Press, 2002), 2, 1,74. On the need to consider the two objects of fragmentation (the female beloved and the male loverpoet) in relation to one another, see Teodolinda Barolini, "The Self in the Labyrinth of Time: Rerum vulgarium fragmenta" Petrarch: A Critical Guide to the Complete Works, ed. Victoria Kirkham and Armando Maggi (U. of Chicago Press, 2009), 51, 368n53.

(12) Marshall, The Shattering of the Self, book title and 70. On Spenser's response to discontinuity in Petrarch, see Alana D. Shilling, "The Worth of the Imperfect Memory: Allusion and Fictions of Continuity in Petrarch and Spenser," MLN 125 (2010): 1081-92.

(13) On the passions in early modern thought, see Gail Kern Paster, Katharine Rowe, and Mary Floyd-Wilson, "Introduction: Reading the Early Modern Passions," in Reading the Early Modern Passions: Essays in the Cultural History of Emotion, ed. Paster, Rowe, and Floyd-Wilson (U. of Pennsylvania Press, 2004), 1-20. See also Paster, Humoring the Body: Emotions and the Shakespearean Stage (U. of Chicago Press, 2004).

(14) OED, s.v. "contain" v. 1.1.a, II.11.a, 11.10 and II.8. On the "leaky vessel" of the female body in particular, see Gail Kern Paster, The Body Embarrassed: Drama and the Disciplines of Shame in Early Modern England (Cornell U. Press, 1993), 23-64.

(15) I have argued for the significance of contentment for the early modern period in Paul Joseph Zajac, "The Politics of Contentment: Passions, Pastoral, and Community in Shakespeare's As You Like It',' SP 113 (2016): 306-36.

(16) OED s.v. "content" adj. 2 and 4.

(17) Andrew Escobedo, "Despair and the Proportion of the Self," Spenser Studies 17 (2003): 88.

(18) See Richard Strier, The Unrepentant Renaissance: From Petrarch to Shakespeare (U. of Chicago Press, 2011), chap. 2.

(19) George Puttenham, The Arte of English Poesie, ed. Frank Whigham and Wayne A. Rebhorn (Cornell U. Press, 2007), 127.

(20) My identification of a recurring concern with containment in Book VI is consistent with what Eva Gold, following Harry Berger, has recognized as Spensers use of "both a thematics and a structure of enclosure." See Gold, "The Queen and the Book in Book 6 of The Faerie Queene," South Atlantic Review 57 (1992): 2.

(21) Stephen Greenblatt, Renaissance Self-Fashioning: From More to Shakespeare (U. of Chicago Press, 1980, 2005), 169.

(22) John D. Bernard, Spenser Encyclopedia, s.v. "hermits." On the Hermit's advice as widely applicable throughout Book VI, see Stanley Stewart, "Sir Calidore and 'Closure,'" SEL 24 (1984): 74.

(23) All references to The Faerie Queene and the Letter to Ralegh come from the rev. second ed. of A. C. Hamilton (Harlow, London, and New York, 2007), cited parenthetically.

(24) This is consistent with Kenneth Gross's claim that the episode reflects "a crucially ambiguous stance towards inside and outside, private and public." See "Reflections on the Blatant Beast," Spenser Studies 13 (1999): 109.

(25) As Sean Henry notes, the Hermit's "description of the progress of the wound recalls both the process of ... and the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases." See "Getting Spenser's Goat: Calepine, Spenser's Goats, and the Problem of Meaning," Spenser Studies 30 (2015): 313.

(26) Hamilton, ed., The Faerie Queene OED s.v. "inform" v. II.6.a and "reduce" v. 2,1.1. The OED definition for "inform" provides an example from Spenser's Garden of Adonis.

(27) Although Timias receives the Beast's bite at Vi.v. 16, it does not begin to take its full effect until stanza 31.

(28) This abjection follows upon Timias's success in Book III of "living the ideal of the selfless Petrarchan lover of an unattainable lady," despite "great difficulty and ... considerable personal cost." See Silberman, Transforming Desire, 122; also 36-40.

(29) Barolini, "The Self in the Labyrinth of Time," 33, 37-38, 50-51.

(30) However, Corey McEleney argues that the poetic project suggested in the Letter to Ralegh does not apply to Book VI. Similarly, Jane Grogan claims, "Spenser s reformative didactic poetics, as enshrined in the Letter to Ralegh, runs aground on the palliative poetics of courtesy of Book VI." See McEleney, "Spensers Unhappy Ends: The Legend of Courtesy and the Pleasure of the Text," ELFl 79 (2012): 817-18; and Grogan, Exemplary Spenser: Visual and Poetic Pedagogy in The Faerie Queene (Farnham: Ashgate, 2009), 23.

(31) The Faerie Queene VI.Pr.1.7 and 2.8.

(32) T. Greene, "The Flexibility of the Self in Renaissance Literature," 262.

(33) See Michael Schoenfeldt, Bodies and Selves: Physiology and Inwardness in Spenser, Shakepeare, Herbert, and Milton (Cambridge U. Press, 1999), esp. chap. 2.

(34) The Petrarchan valences accrued by the Blatant Beast help make sense of Timias's later defeat by Disdaine (VI.vii.45-49). As Jeffrey B. Morris suggests, the narrative slots Timias into the role of a conventional Petrarchan lover, which, I maintain, accords with his loss of a distinct identity following the Beast's attack. See Morris, "To (Re)Fashion a Gentleman: Ralegh's Disgrace in Spenser's Legend of Courtesy," SP 94 (1997): 52-53.

(35) As Kathleen Williams suggests, Mirabella supplants Cupid as the "Petrarchan tyrant" in this episode. See "Courtesy and Pastoral in The Faerie Queene, Book VI, RES 13.52 (1962): 345. See also Anne Shaver, "Rereading Mirabella," Spenser Studies 9 (1988): 209-29; Mallette, Spenser and the Discourses, 189; and Jeff Dolven, Scenes of Instruction in Renaissance Romance (U. of Chicago Press, 2007), 228-30.

(36) Donald Cheney says the cannibals that assault Serena combine "primitivism" and "Petrarchism." Alwes writes, "Spenser uses the perversely literal Petrarchism of the cannibals to represent the crowd of courtly versifiers, whose fulsome praise of Queen Elizabeth serves no ulterior social purpose but is purely mercenary." Andrew Hadfield takes this further and sees Spenser turning the Petrarchism of Elizabethan court culture against the queen herself on behalf of English colonial subjects. See Cheney, Spenser's Image of Nature: Wild Man and Shepherd in The Faerie Queene (Yale U. Press, 1966), 116; Alwes, "'Who Knowes Not Colin Clout?"' 36; and Hadfield, Edmund Spenser's Irish Experience: Wilde Fruit and Salvage Soyl (Oxford U. Press, 1997), 180. See also George Rowe, "Privacy, Vision, and Gender in Spenser's Legend of Courtesy," MLQ 50 (1989): 322-24; Crewe, "Spenser's Saluage Petrarchanism"; and Dubrow, Echoes of Desire, 259-60.

(37) See Linda Gregerson, The Reformation of the Subject: Spenser, Milton, and the English Protestant Epic (Cambridge U. Press, 1995), 137-39. On Petrarchan idolatry as undergirded by an Ovidian rhetoric of the body, see Lynn Enterline, The Rhetoric of the Body from Ovid to Shakespeare (Cambridge U. Press, 2000), chap. 3.

(38) As Crewe notes, "the last minute rescue of Serena by Calepine doesn't necessarily put an end to the problems of the displaced Petrarchan woman" ("Spensers Saluage Petrarchanism," 99).

(39) In addition to the link between Pastorella and "pastoral," several critics have had more specific insights into the significance of her name. See Michael O'Connell, Mirror and Veil: The Historical Dimension of Spenser's The Faerie Queene (U. of North Carolina Press, 1977), 173; Helen Cooper, Pastoral: Mediaeval into Renaissance (Ipswich: Brewer, 1977), 164; and Patrick Cheney, "Perdita, Pastorella, and the Romance of Literary Form: Shakespeare's Counter-Spenserian Authorship," in Spenser and Shakespeare: Attractive Oppostites, ed. J. B. Lethbridge (Manchester U. Press, 2008), 121-42.

(40) For a recent catalogue of Calidore critiques, see Elizabeth Jane Bellamy, "The Faerie Queene (1596)," in Oxford Handbook, ed. McCabe, 286-87. See also Richard Neuse, "Book VI as Conclusion to The Faerie Queene" ELH 35 (1968): 347-50; Lila Geller, "Spenser's Theory of Nobility in Book VI of The Faerie Queene," ELR 5 (1975): 56; Harry Rusche, "The Lesson of Calidore's Truancy," SP 76 (1979): 149-61; Grogan, Exemplary Spenser, 137-75; and McEleney, "Spenser's Unhappy Ends," 799. However, on Calidore's ethical ambiguity as productive to Spenser's moral fashioning of his readers, see Patricia Wareh, "Competitions in Nobility and Courtesy: Nennio and the Reader's Judgment in Book VI of The Faerie Queene" Spenser Studies 27 (2012): 163-91.

(41) On Pastorella promoting Calidore's virtues, see Tonkin, Courteous Pastorals, 122-23; and Alice Fox Blitch, "Proserpina Preserved: Book VI of the Faerie Queen',' SEL 13 (1973): 15-30. For echoes of prior episodes in cantos ix through xi, see Isabel G. MacCaffrey, Spenser's Allegory: The Anatomy of Imagination (Princeton U. Press, 1976), 372; Parker, Inescapable Romance, 104; Hamilton, ed., The Faerie Queene VI.ix.10n, 26.4n; and Theresa Krier, Gazing on Secret Sights: Spenser, Classical Imitation, and the Decorums of Vision (Cornell U. Press, 1990), 240.

(42) John Watkins, The Specter of Dido: Spenser and Virgilian Epic (Yale U. Press, 1995), 176, 64. Similarly, Dubrow claims that "Petrarchism, as much as pastoral, stands for that which threatens epic action," but I suggest that in Book VI Spenser uses pastoral to contain the excesses and dangers of Petrarchism and proceed with epic (Echoes of Desire, 262).

(43) Paul Alpers, "Spenser's Late Pastorals," ELH 56 (1989): 803. Several studies have linked the Hermit with Melibee and the shepherd community: Mallette, Spenser, Milton, and Renaissance Pastoral (Lewisburg: Bucknell U. Press, 1981), 165, and Spenser and the Discourses, 195; and Catherine Bates, Masculinity and the Flunt: Wyatt to Spenser (Oxford U. Press, 2013), 285.

(44) Hallett Smith, following Friedrich Schiller, identifies pastoral as "an ideal of the good life, of the state of content and mental self-sufficiency which had been known in classical antiquity as otium." Renato Poggioli states that "pastoral poets ... exalt the paupers estate ... because it teaches self contentment": "the converted shepherd may find sensual delight, as well as moral contentment, by merely satisfying his needs." Even Louis Montrose, who influentially reads pastoral as "an authorized mode of discontent," recognizes the centrality of its representations of contentment, though he ultimately argues, "Pastorals that celebrate the ideal of content function to articulate--and thereby, perhaps, to assuage--discontent." See Smith, Elizabethan Poetry: A Study in Conventions, Meaning, and Expression (Harvard U. Press, 1952), 2; Poggioli, The Oaten Flute: Essays on Pastoral Poetry and the Pastoral Ideal (Harvard U. Press, 1975), 7-9; and Montrose, "Of Gentlemen and Shepherds: The Politics of Elizabethan Pastoral Form," ELH 50 (1983): 426-27, and '"Eliza, Queene of Shepheardes,' and the Pastoral of Power," ELR 10 (1980): 155.

(45) On Calidore's misunderstanding, see Bernard, Ceremonies of Innocence, 152; Mallette, Spenser, Milton, and Renaissance Pastoral, 167-68; and Michael F. N. Dixon, The Polliticke Courtier: Spenser's The Faerie Queene as a Rhetoric of Justice (Montreal: McGill-Queen's U. Press, 1996), 177.

(46) Hamilton, ed., The Faerie Queene, VI.ix.26.4.note.

(47) OED, s.v. "quaint" adj. I and II.7 and n. 1. Hamilton, ed., The Faerie Queene, VI.ix.35.2.note.

(48) Camille Paglia, Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson (Yale U. Press, 1990), 172-73.

(49) See Tonkin, Spensers Courteous Pastoral, 18-19, 28.

(50) On Calidore's pastoral labor, see Krier, Gazing On Secret Sights, 235. Curiously, Katherine Little does not discuss Calidore's rural labor in these episodes, instead emphasizing Calidore's dangerously "Arcadian" reading of Melibee's community. See Transforming Work: Early Modern Pastoral and Late Medieval Poetry (U. of Notre Dame Press, 2013), 171-93.

(51) According to Bart van Es, one of the defining features of Spenserian pastoral is "the fellowship of the shepherds" or the "sense of pastoral community." See "Spenserian Pastoral," in Early Modern English Poetry: A Critical Companion, ed. Patrick Cheney, Andrew Hadfield, and Garrett A. Sullivan Jr. (Oxford U. Press, 2007), 85.

(52) See Ilona Bell, Elizabethan Women and the Poetry of Courtship (Cambridge U. Press, 1998), 3. Parry describes the experience of Petrarchan love as "the alienation of the lover from others, from God, and from the self" ("Petrarch's Mourning," 26).

(53) On Calidore's condescension, see Alpers, What Is Pastoral? (U. of Chicago Press, 1996), 194; Nancy Lindheim, The Virgilian Pastoral Tradition: From the Renaissance to the Modern Era (Duquesne U. Press, 2005), 147; and Michael C. Schoenfeldt, "The Poetry of Conduct: Accommodation and Transgression in The Faerie Queene, Book 6," in Enclosure Acts: Sexuality, Property, and Culture in Early Modern England, ed. Richard Burt and John Michael Archer (Cornell U. Press, 1994), 159.

(54) On Calidore's withdrawal, see Berger, Revisionary Play, 240; Mallette, Spenser, Milton, and Renaissance Pastoral, 186-87; Bernard, Ceremonies of Innocence, 38, 152; Bellamy, "The Faerie Queene (1596)," 285; and Patrick Cheney, Reading Sixteenth-Century Poetry (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011), 193. For Spenser's descriptions of the unusually solitary nature of Calidore's quest, see VI.i.6.2 and ii.37.

(55) Lindheim notes that the line reflects Pastorella's perspective, but describes her here as "hardly more than the embodiment of the pastoral ethos that her name suggests" (The Virgilian Pastoral Tradition, 147-48).

(56) Alpers, What Is Pastoral?, 194.

(57) Alpers, What Is Pastoral?, 194.

(58) Gordon Braden notes that Petrarchism equates "romantic failure and poetic success." See "Beyond Frustration: Petrarchan Laurels in the Seventeenth Century," SEL 26 (1986): 11. This is not to say that the subject of Petrarchan poetry is reducible to romantic failure or that such failure cannot be used to explore other issues.

(59) In this reading, I differ from Little, who claims that "this figurative storm (the attack of the brigands) reads less as punishment for love of a woman than punishment for love of the pastoral world," even as she suggests that "these two loves are inseparable" (Transforming Work, 185).

(60) See MacCaffrey, Spenser's Allegory, 358; Cooper, Pastoral, 165; David Shore, Spenser and the Poetics of Pastoral (Kingston: McGill-Queen's U. Press, 1985), 166; Alwes, '"Who Knowes Not Colin Clout?"' 37-38; Hadfield, Spenser's Irish Experience, 184, and "The Faerie Queene, Books IV-VII," in The Cambridge Companion to Spenser, ed. Hadfield (Cambridge U. Press, 2001), 135; and John D. Staines, "Pity and the Authority of Feminine Passions in Books V and VI of The Faerie Queene," Spenser Studies 25 (2010): 152.

(61) This point is consistent with that of Douglas Northrop, who claims that Calidore "must fight through his brigandine desires to possess and to benefit from Pastorella in order to get beyond his self-seeking retreat from duty." See "The Uncertainty of Courtesy in Book VI of The Faerie Queene," Spenser Studies 14 (2000): 229-30.

(62) D. Cheney recognizes a parallel process in Calidore's combination of shepherd and warrior wardrobes (Spenser's Image of Nature, 237).

(63) Burrow, Epic Romance: Homer to Milton (Oxford U. Press, 1993), 100.

(64) OED, s.v. "say" n.2. 7 and n.4. 1.

(65.) Joshua Phillips, "Moutastician and Idleness in Spenser's Late Poetry," SEL 54 (2014): 69.

(66) For example, see Ronald Bond, Spenser Encyclopedia s.v. "Blatant Beast"; and Gross, "Reflections on the Blatant Beast," 113-14.
COPYRIGHT 2016 University of Iowa
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2016 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Zajac, Paul Joseph
Publication:Philological Quarterly
Article Type:Book review
Date:Mar 22, 2016
Previous Article:The readers of the Manuel des peches revisited.
Next Article:On similitudes: Montaigne in Matthew prior's Alma and the late "dialogues of the dead".

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2022 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters |