LAWRENCE MANLEY


Spenser and the City:
The Minor Poems

The historical significance of Renaissance cities is inseparable from their status as ideas. Burckhardt implied as much when he began his Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy with a chapter on "The State as a Work of Art"; and a recent work on the urban culture of Renaissance Italy has enshrined the implication in its title: Power and Imagination. Not just in Italy, but at different times and in different ways throughout Europe, the life of Renaissance cities was shaped not only by evolving economic forces and civic forms, but also by a growth in civic awareness, a consciously novel effort to frame an urban ideology. Because its chief architects were often literary humanists, that ideology embodied as a major theme the role of literary culture in the structure of power. According to the Ciceronian myth fostered by humanists, the arts of speech lay at the very roots of civic order. "The highest science with which to govern the city," Brunetto Latini explained, "is the science of language; without language there would be no cities, nor could we establish justice and human community. And as Lord Berners similarly remarked in the preface to his translation of Froissart's Chroniques (1523-25), political power flows from literary sources: "So thus, through the monumentes of writynge, ... many men have ben moved, some to bylde cytes, some to devyse and establisshe lawes right profitable, necessarie, and behovefull for the humayne lyfe...."

Mythographical commonplace had bestowed on poets a distin-

____________________
From Modern Language Quarterly 3, vol. 43 ( September 1982). Copyright © 1983 by University of Washington.

-191-

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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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