PATRICIA A. PARKER


The Romance of Romance

Readers frequently have sensed, in reading Book VI [of The Faerie Queene], that the poem, if not demonstrably ending, is beginning, retrospectively, to explore its own implications. Humphrey Tonkin finely remarks in it a tension between two types of romance—the chivalric and pastoral—which is finally a tension between The Faerie Queene's two archtypes, quest and circle, forward movement towards end or accomplishment, and the bower, or embowered moment, along the way. The task of the knight of Courtesy is the accomplishment of the end Artegall does not reach—the subduing of the Blatant Beast. But just as in the Legend of Friendship the resolution of end, conflict, or "travail" is suspended in favor of a discordia concors, so in the Legend of Courtesy, the emphasis falls not only on the completion of the quest but on the delights—and discoveries—of the "way." The opening stanzas of the Proem extend this dwelling upon, or dilation of, that middle space to the delightful "wanderings" of the poem itself:

The waies, through which my weary steps I guyde,
In this delightfull land of Faery,
Are so exceeding spacious and wyde,
And sprinckled with such sweet variety,
Of all that pleasant is to eare or eye,
That I nigh rauisht with rare thoughts delight,
My tedious trauell doe forget thereby;
And when I gin to feele decay of might,
It strength to me supplies, and chears my dulled spright.

(VI. Pro. 1)

____________________
From Inescapable Romance: Studies in the Poetics of a Mode. Copyright © 1979 by Princeton University Press.

-181-

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Edmund Spenser
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Edmund Spenser *
  • Edmund Spenser *
  • Contents *
  • Editor's Note ix
  • Introduction 1
  • The Structure of Imagery in "The Faerie Queene" 23
  • The Structure of Allegory in Books I and II of "The Faerie Queene" 41
  • Mutability and the Theme of Process 57
  • The Marriage of the Thames and Medway 73
  • Gardens of Adonis 81
  • The Bower of Bliss 97
  • The "Mutabilitie Cantos": Archaism and Evolution in Retrospect 111
  • Allegory and Pastoral in "The Shepheardes Calender" 141
  • Imagery and Prophecy in "The Faerie Queene" 161
  • The Romance of Romance 181
  • Spenser and the City: the Minor Poems 191
  • Mythologies and Metrics in Spenser 211
  • The Image of Source in "The Faerie Queene" 219
  • "Astrophel" 239
  • "The Footing of His Feet": Spenser's Early Error 251
  • Envy in the Middest of the 1596 "Faerie Queene" 267
  • Chronology 285
  • Contributors 287
  • Bibliography 289
  • Acknowledgments 295
  • Index 297
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