A. BARTLETT GIAMATTI


The Bower of Bliss

In Book II, the garden of Proserpina gives us a perverted Eden where the consequences of intemperance echo far beyond the limits of a simple temptation to indulge in the goods of the material world. From both Phaedria and Proserpina's gardens, Guyon has learned of the various types of temptations in and of the material world, and he has learned how both imply the inversion of the values of God. Guyon has seen both these versions of the evil garden, and now he is ready, or will be after his sojourn at Alma's, for the grand garden of Book II, which sums up all the gardens and all the temptations—the Bower of Bliss.

At Alma's, Guyon learns that if the body submits to "reasons rule obedient," there is a place for pleasure in a temperate man's constitution. The banquet Alma serves to her guests—"attempred goodly well for health and for delight" (xi, 2)—is indicative of Spenser's ability to conceive of pleasure and virtue existing in harmony. This is a very important consideration for the virtue of Temperance in Book II, especially for the Bower of Bliss, and it marks the essential difference between Spenser's treatment of the Bower and Tasso's of the garden of Armida.

Now ginnes this goodly frame of Temperaunce
Fayrely to rise....

(xii, 1)

Guyon is ready to complete his quest.

Guyon's odyssey to Acrasia's Bower has been fully treated by others

____________________
From The Earthly Paradise and the Renaissance Epic. Copyright © 1966 by Princeton University Press.

-97-

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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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