Edmund Spenser: A Literary Life by Gary Waller (auth.)

Edmund Spenser: A Literary Life by Gary Waller (auth.)

By Gary Waller (auth.)

Gary Waller surveys Spenser's occupation when it comes to the cloth stipulations of its construction - the usually ignored fabric elements of race, gender, category, organisation - and the resonant 'places' which encouraged his profession - courtroom, church, state, colony. The booklet comprises an unique account of the gender politics of Spenser's paintings and his tricky place among eire and England, the 'homes' approximately which he held ambivalent emotions. Waller additionally discusses the 'place' the biographer occupies in writing a literary life.

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Extra resources for Edmund Spenser: A Literary Life

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What is the relationship between the state of salvation of the poet and the poem's 'truth' or integrity? Must the poet be morally good in order to write morally effective poems? The central issue behind such questions is the mediating (or what was suspected to be the distorting) power of 'images', including (most especially for a poet) language. We see the importance of the question in the vivid (and immediate) way Spenser deals with it in the first book of The Faerie Queene, where Red Crosse cannot distinguish between Una and the dream produced by the malevolent Archimago, the 'source of images'.

I make no apology here for what may appear to be a diversion from the 'facts' of Spenser's life: what I am concerned with is the significance of those apparent facts and Theweleit's and Mahler's analyses offer us striking insights into that significance. Mahler's work with children, especially with male children, gives us particular insight into a culturally produced personality structure that has, from all evidence, been remarkably (and depressingly) constant across the history of Western gender construction- and probably more intensely so in Spenser's time.

We can, indeed, trace a variety of ways in which Spenser's editors and commentators staked their claims as Bonfonts, right readers. Early commentaries on Spenser, including James's, tend to focus on historical and emblematic identifications of the allegory and to justify Spenser's poetic methods; The Construction of a Literary Life 39 Warton's Observations on the Fairy Queen (1754) opened up the riches of Spenser's use of his medieval predecessors; nineteenth-century readers tended to see the poems in terms of Spenser's biography and his 'personal' vision; by the late nineteenth-century, as the professionalization of the discipline of literary studies intensified, Spenser's text became increasingly surrounded by notes and contextual materials as the means by which 'right' readers - Bonfonts rather than Malfonts- would be produced.

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