THE PURPOSE of this book of studies is probably quite clear from the titles and contents of the individual essays. Though at first glance they may seem to have little in common, they are all concerned with problems of interpretation of medieval and Renaissance literature and are, therefore, in many ways unified. I have put them together because each one, I believe, sheds some light on the others. Those written last are, in fact, direct outgrowths of the earlier ones. All aim to re-study problems, some of them centuries old, which need re-interpretation on the basis of new evidence or on the basis of evidences newly associated. It is to be hoped that such re-interpretations may prove serviceable to students and teachers of Spenser, Milton, and their times as well as to critics and scholars, who know the values, in literary interpretation, of the historical approach.
I am glad of this opportunity to express my thanks to those who have helped to make these studies possible. They are the result, in part, of questions asked by students in my Spenser and Milton classes, many of whom have found the study of Spenser and Milton the exciting and timely adventure that it should be. I am grateful to them for providing a practical and immediate incentive for turning the desire to answer such questions into action. My great indebtedness to medieval and Renaissance scholars is evident throughout the book, and I shall not attempt, therefore, to name them here. I am grateful to the Syndics of the Cambridge University Press for permission to quote from B. E. C. Davis' Edmund Spenser; and to the Clarendon Press of Oxford University for their generous permission to quote from C. L. Wrenn "On Re-reading Spenser's Shepheardes Calender" in Essays and Studies by Members of the English Association, Volume XXIX ( 1943), from Douglas Bush English Literature in the Earlier Seventeenth Century, 1600-1660, and from R. Newton Flew's The Idea of Perfection in Christian Theology. I am also indebted to Chatto and Windus for permitting me to quote from Sir