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The search has found 3198 matches

501 of 3198

"Reading between the Lines: Manuscript Personality and Gabriel Harvey's Drafts." Studies in English Literature 33 (Winter 1993):42-82.

In an article whose larger argument is aimed at overturning current methods of thinking about how to assess authorial intention, intervenes in the old argument between J.W. Bennett and Evelyn Albright about how to interpret Harvey's manuscript changes from Immerito to Benevolo. They don't necessarily signal an intentional change from a historical Spenser to John Wood or John Wolfe. Rather, what the manuscript indicates via a "trip of three inflections along the Latin verb of volition" is a "publicational intentionality" slowly achieved by a series "crossings-out" (i. e. , Immerito crossed out in favor of volens nolens, that crossed out in favor of Quodvultdeus, and that in turn in favor of Benevolo) until it "approximates that of a 'scapegoated' intercessor, the merciful mediator by whose graces the author would be carried into the bosom of the public, and who takes upon himself the weight of publicational guilt."

[Jerome S. Dees]

Access Number: 1996.019
File Name: Sp961

502 of 3198

"Spenser, the Antiquitez de Rome, and the Development of the English Sonnet Form." Comparative Literature Studies 27, no. 4 (1990):259-74.

Arguing against negative evaluations of The Ruins of Rome, claims that Spenser "makes the material of [Du Bellay's] Antiquitez his own." Claims that by changing the form of du Bellay's poems from the Italian sonnet to the English, Spenser both intentionally changes the tone of the sequence and serves as an important step in the development of the English sonnet form from its beginnings with Surrey to its apex with Shakespeare. Claims the seven rhyme English form gives "the illusion of greater 'speed'" than the more stately five rhyme Italian form. Using Shakespeare's Sonnet 73 as a touchstone, argues that several poems in Rome "presage the Shakespearean pinnacle of the English form," especially numbers 2, 3, 23, and 29. Demonstrates that Spenser's "envoy," while expanding and departing from its source, exploits both du Bellay's subject matter and the English sonnet form. Concludes that Spenser's experiment with the English form not only shows "yet another stanzaic competency, but his seven well-wrought rhymes serve, if Shakespeare is evidence, as a worthy bridge to the future."

[Russell Mayes]

Access Number: 1996.020
File Name: Sp961

503 of 3198

"Irregular Visual Rhymes in The Faerie Queene, Part I (Books I-III)." Kinjo Gakuin Daigaku Bulletin 34 (1993):61-80.

Compares the rhyme words of the two editions and surveys how the compositors changed spellings. At II.iii.43, for instance, 1590's "nott, shott, forgott, vayne, blott, agayne, disdayne" have been altered in 1596 to: "not, shot, forgot, vaine, blot, againe, disdaine" respectively. Statistically, approximately 9.4 percent of the rhyme words have been changed, many of which result from the compositors' own preference. Suzuki (a co-editor of the Concordance) concludes that "general decline of medial y, ay, and ow spellings and of final aunce, dd, tt, and ncke spellings in the rhymes of the 1596 edition may justifiably be described as a further step away from the poet's own orthography."

[Shohachi Fukuda]

Access Number: 1996.021
File Name: Sp961

504 of 3198

"Mutability, Genealogy, and the Authority of Forms." Representations 41 (Winter 1993):104-22.

Claiming that the "real issue" raised by Mutabilitie Cantos is "whether the basis of judgments of value in human affairs" (i.e. , the basis of "the entire project of The Faerie Queene") is in a "metaphysics promoted by the authority of visual forms or in something else for which that authority is a pleasing but illusory veil," provides a new reading of the cantos grounded in a theory of "genealogical discourse" derived largely from Nietzsche. Mutabilitie Cantos follows the "logic of genealogy," which "places metaphysics at risk by affirming difference at the origin, but difference in its aspect of struggle." By bringing into view this "difference at the origin," the cantos disclose what had been kept out of sight in the preceding books of The Faerie Queene. "Mutabililtie's subversiveness is motivated by a genealogical discourse that recurs not to a homogeneity at the origin, but to a difference (in Nietzschean terms an almost arbitrary preference) that emerges at the origin and can never be effaced as the chain of only a cosmogonic struggle." At the origin, there is only this struggle, "a Heraclitean polemos undermining the stability of Jove's metaphysical claims." It is the style of Jove's rule--a "hegemonic amnesia" in which authority is defined as the power to compel the public forgetting of what is privately remembered--that Mutabilitie challenges: she opposes "rule without struggle." Thus traditional interpretations of Mutabilitie Cantos as the culmination and resolution of Spenser's metaphysical concerns are mistaken. Rather, "metaphysics functions in the poem as a political code: Spenser is undoing the illusion necessary to allegory by inverting the priority, in Renaissance social and political theory, of metaphysics to politics." This reversal "follows logically" from Spenser's project in The Faerie Queene Books V and VI, both of which are "deeply theoretical responses to the practical problems of Elizabethan policy, chiefly in Ireland." The working out of this argument, too complex to abstract here, depends on the assumption that "as a poet whose main concern is to think ... in more subtle, allusive, indirect, and intuitive ways about problems too complex to deal with by entirely rational means," Spenser "takes us into areas of theoretical inquiry the existence of which Milton never suspected, or never found a vehicle flexible enough to explore."

[Jerome S. Dees]

Access Number: 1996.022
File Name: Sp961

505 of 3198

"Sylvanus' Tree Emblems at Kenilworth and Spenser's Februarie Eclogue." Explorations in Renaissance Culture 19 (1993):115-33.

Although unlikely, Spenser could have attended Leicester's 1576 Kenilworth entertainment for Elizabeth; even if not, reminiscences of it, probably deriving from Gascoigne's The Princely Pleasures, are perceptible in Thenot's fable of the Oak and Briar. Awareness of these echoes permits a more precise reading of that fable than has been hitherto proposed, situating it within the context of what Leicester "means" vis a vis the crisis surrounding the Alenton courtship: "his failed hopes of a royal marriage were less to the political point than his unquestionable and long-established embodiment of English Protestantism." In this context the Husbandman can be seen to represent the Queen as "Governor of the English Church"; the Oak is "that historic continuity of her Church which Spenser takes to be its true and established hope and strength"; and the Briar is "the upstart threat of Catholicism itself and specifically Leicester's political enemies, the supporters of the proposed French marriage."

[Jerome S. Dees]

Access Number: 1996.023
File Name: Sp961

506 of 3198

"Method and Value in Amoretti 15." Explicator 51, no. 2 (Winter 1993):73-75.

Laments the scanty attention Sonnet 15 has received and explicates it in relation to Sonnet 15 in E.C.'s Emaricdulfe, which uses the same conceit but to a much different end. Argues that Spenser's repeated If implies reluctance and cynicism, that despite the use of the merchant metaphor, "manner mocks substance." The couplet subverts the conventions of the poetry of praise, implying "a judgment of practices in the poetics of love that correspond to the vain labor of merchants."

[Sarah Caldwell]

Access Number: 1996.024
File Name: Sp961

507 of 3198

"Spenser in Japan 1985-1995." Spenser Newsletter 27, no. 3 (Winter 1996):19-21.

Describes the early activities of the Spenser Society of Japan (founded in 1985), its journal Spenser Newsletter of Japan, and major publications on the poet by Japanese scholars during the period in question, including a concordance, a lexicon, translations, and interpretive and scholarly studies.

[Donald Stump]

Access Number: 1996.025
File Name: Sp961

508 of 3198

Jonson's Spenser: Evidence and Historical Criticism. Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 1995, 235 pp.

James A. Riddell and Stanley Stewart present in Jonson's Spenser their account of Jonson's personal, annotated copy of the Lownes 1617 folio of Spenser's Works, seizing the occasion to issue several critical judgments about the relation of these two major Renaissance poets on the basis of evidence the volume provides, and by the way to engage in some polemic exercises. ¶In their introduction, Riddell and Stewart survey the history of this volume from its first appearance in the Catalogue of a sale by Puttick and Simpson, Auctioneers, on 15 July 1865, through its acquisition from Christie's by J. Paul Getty in June of 1986. They also resolve questions concerning the authenticity of the great bulk of the marginalia and markings in the volume (9-11). After a first chapter surveying and challenging the conventional view of Jonson's relation to Spenser, the authors explore "The Poet's Vocation," using the marginalia in Spenser's shorter poems, in Chapter 2; how "Johnson Reads The Faerie Queene" follows in Chapter 3; and "The Legacy of the Text: Jonson's House of Alma" occupies their fourth and final chapter. Parts of Chapter 2 (originally in the Ben Jonson Journal) and Chapter 4 (in Studies in Philology) reproduce already published interpretive studies. ¶Jonson's Spenser is chiefly valuable to Spenserians for two things: it challenges a received opinion of Jonson's general antipathy to Spenser, and it makes available, after a fashion, a new primary source of evidence for thinking about both poets, and about Early Modern habits of reading and criticism. This last commendation must be severely qualified, however. Riddell and Stewart provide in "Appendix A" a transcription of "Jonson's Annotations and Representative Marks to the 1617 Spenser Folio," keyed to signatures (and pages where applicable) in the Lownes volume and to stanzas and line numbers (for The Faerie Queene) and to lines alone for Mother Hubberd's Tale and Ruines of Time. In "Appendix B," they give the marginal markings and textual underlinings in the edition of The Shepheardes Calender bound into the 1617 Folio, keyed in this instance to the Yale Shorter Poems. These appendices might have made the book indispensable for those interested in either author or in the period. However, the writers have been careless in laying out exactly what they are doing, and, apparently, in doing it (a frequent complaint that perusal of this book provokes). "Representative Marks" leaves the reader uncertain just how many marks (and annotations?) may have been omitted in the transcription; there is no easily found indication either of how much has been left out, or of the grounds of decision. The closest thing to such a guide to the editorial principles governing the transcription is buried in Chapter 2 (52-53), though even here, one never gets a precise assertion of criteria or of how much marking or marginalia has been omitted. Such a guide ought to have been presented in close proximity to the data in the appendix. At the least, it ought to be indexed and easily located in the main text. ¶Evidence of carelessness in the presentation of the material fosters a further sense of uneasiness about implicit faith in what is printed here. For example, in their introduction, Riddell and Stewart acknowledge the possible presence of a different hand in some annotations, particularly in Mother Hubberd's Tale (11). However, in the Appendix, there is no indication of which marginal comments might be in that different hand. The authors discuss the questionable annotations in such a way that a hasty reader might easily conclude that they are, at least probably, Jonson's: for example, they remark on the spelling of "suitors" as "sutors" that "it is worth noting that Jonson spelled 'sute' or 'sutor' about as often without the 'i' as with it" (53). Another example of lack of care: although their text designates the plate reproduced photostatically from Mother Hubberd's Tale as Sig. A6v, what the picture shows is Sig. A7v. In a word, it appears that what might have been the book's most valuable feature may be unreliable because of lack of due care in producing the text and failure to consider the convenience of the many who will want to consult this volume without having to read it from cover to cover to determine what its data mean.
Riddell and Stewart do comment that précis of the narrative and explications of its allegorical significance are the most common kinds of markings in Book 2, which is also the most heavily annotated book in Jonson's copy of the 1617 volume (79), but this is their only categorizing generalization, and they provide no statistical breakdown. ¶In truth, the sheer quantity of annotation in Jonson's copy of Spenser is much more significant than is its content, on the whole. However, the material made available in Jonson's Spenser forces us to rethink some standard views on the relationship of the two authors--views made all the more plausible by their so obviously antithetical personalities. Riddell and Stewart lay out their challenge to the standard version of literary history in Chapter 1, "Aliquid Aprehendo: Jonson Claims Spenser." Somewhat padded with three pages on Jonson's judgment on Shakespeare, this chapter nevertheless effectively challenges a too-easy reliance on "taking Jonson as Drummond did--at face value" (18, 48). ¶The book's arguments are less successful in attempting to explain away completely Jonson's reported dislike of Spenser's poetics, especially his stanzas (Chapter 3). Clearly the authors are right to insist that it is too extreme to claim for the author of "A Celebration of Charis," the Cary-Morison pindaric, Underwoods 75, The Golden Age Restored, and various songs in the plays and masques an inveterate antipathy to all stanzas or cross rhymes, or indeed any form other than the rhymed couplet. They muster persuasive examples of Jonson's use of a concluding alexandrine that surely recalls the effectiveness of that line closing Spenser's stanza (30-32, 39-40). But the fact remains that Jonson's own Heroologia was projected to be a heroic poem in rhymed couplets, and that Jonson's own style never sounds rhetorically like Spenser's. ¶What is instead suggested, both by the examples of specific homage to Spenser Riddell and Stewart uncover from Jonson's works, and by the fact that even when he takes over a Spenserian prosodic device, Jonson does not sound Spenserian, is that Jonson did greatly admire Spenser, but as a different kind of artist, not a model for himself in voice or technique. Rather, he emulated him in his ethical matter and in his high conception of the central, civilizing, eternizing role of the poet. In conception of the poet's place and power, they are at one, and ranged against the crowd of petty poetasters and raging rhymesters; but while Jonson, with his fine critical ear, was able to appreciate Spenser's technique and artistry with a delicacy of discrimination of which his typically blunt, truculent remarks to Drummond give no hint, he clearly saw that Spenser's manner, however rich and graceful, was not for him or his milieu. I believe that a careful review of the nature of Jonson's marks and remarks in the appendices to Jonson's Spenser, as well as a critical evaluation of the evidence and arguments Riddell and Stewart make themselves, will bear out this assertion that Spenser looms much larger in Jonson's consciousness and practice as a teacher and moralist, and as apologist for the indissoluble bond between the true poet and heroic virtue, than as rhetorical or prosodic model. ¶Riddell and Stewart have used the rediscovered Jonson Spenser marginalia as a launching pad for several more narrowly focussed critical arguments. Some twenty pages (53-73) in Chapter 2 are devoted to a rather scattered, disorganized, but important exploration of textual relations between Spenser's Ruines of Time and Jonson's Pindaric ode, "To the immortall memorie, and friendship of that noble paire, Sir Lucius Cary and Sir. H. Morison." At times this section reads like a miscellaneous collection of items for Notes & Queries, but its central argument repays the persistence required to navigate through it. Another substantial interpretive and historical exercise occupies the whole of chapter 4, "The Legacy of the Text: Jonson's House of Alma." Briefly, Riddell and Stewart here argue that Sir Kenelm Digby's famous Observations on The Faerie Queene II.ix.22, published in 1643, are not essentially original, but based upon Jonson's annotations and observations upon this passage, as they are recorded in his 1617 Spenser Folio.
But the authors have other fish to fry in this connection: it is here that they launch a polemic against David Miller and other new New Critics whose "myths or metanarratives...lead to ways of reading peculiar to late twentieth-century critics" (131). While damning Miller and other moderns (however justifiably, in this instance) for attempting a literal visualization of Alma's House as a human figure with round head and triangular legs linked by a quadrangular trunk, their own solution to Spenser's geometrical/mathematical riddle elicits a similar error of attempted visualization through its elaborate display of Vitruvian figures. In effect, their method of arguing their case leaves us still trying to visualize a physical image, and still tangled up in sex, even though they themselves quote William Austin (1637) to the effect that "all these forms are expressible in the body of Woman and man, equally" (112). But surely these are symbolic, not physical representations, signs, not images. ¶Along the way there is much needless polemic, partly provoked, it seems, by charges made at conference presentations of this material that Riddell and Stewart are "privileging" Jonson over moderns like Miller. I agree whole-heartedly with their assertion that "we need to know about ourselves, of course. But it is useful, also, to learn about others. For without the voice of others we must be content to hear only the echolalia of an unchanging message" (131). But the way that argument is made is largely a distraction. Distracting to the authors themselves, it would appear: they become so embroiled in critical infighting over psychological criticism, unconscious meanings, and gender criticism that while chastising Miller for not having consulted the Observations they manage to invert the identifications of the circle and triangle symbolisms asserted by Digby: "The circular-feminine-soul and triangular-masculine-body associations are quite clear in Digby," they say (110; emphasis mine; compare Digby, pages 14-15 quoted in Variorum 2:475). If Miller consults this book instead of the original, he will get it simply and quite clearly wrong. ¶Riddell and Stewart also engage in controversy with "feminist critics (Camille Paglia and Philippa Berry, for instance)" and "the current drift of Spenser criticism" (85), associated explicitly with a belief in "unconscious meanings." Like going out of the way to pick that fight with David Lee Miller over a psychological and ahistorical interpretation of Alma's House, this seems just one more instance of an attempt to pump up an issue engaging currently fashionable critical debates, where reliance on the evidence of the newly discovered text, supported by some positive categorizations, quantifications, and summary remarks properly done would have had more than sufficient interest and value in themselves.
As it is, what might have been a centrally important and highly valuable rigorous and factual article has been inflated into a diffuse, flaccid, confusing book, one which, incidentally, appears not to have undergone either authorial review and revision or editorial oversight as it passed through the press.

[Michael L. Donnelly]

Access Number: 1996.046
File Name: Sp962

509 of 3198

The Renaissance Bible: Scholarship, Sacrifice, and Subjectivity. The New Historicism: Studies in Cultural Poetics, 29. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994, 313 pp.

Debora Shuger's The Renaissance Bible is a bracing and ambitious book that crosses over from traditional intellectual history into the practice of cultural criticism and aims to carry with it the study of those textual communities, disciplines, and traditions of Biblical scholarship that formed the core of European intellectual culture from the fifteenth to the seventeenth centuries. Shuger focuses on specific elements of the biblical text (principally the crucifixion, the sacrifice of Jephthah's daughter, and Mary Magdalene's vigil at the tomb), but what she analyzes is not the Bible so much as its extended cultural presence, its function as "a synthetic field, the site where the disciplines converge" (3). Her subject is "the cultural work done by...Renaissance biblical discourses" (2), including theological scholarship, doctrinal disputation, exegesis and translation as well as selected retellings of Biblical narrative; the discussion also takes into account historical affiliations that link these practices to developments in philology, rhetoric, legal historiography, and Hebrew studies. ¶The cultural work Shuger discerns in these varied discourses amounts to the production of speculative thought. Drawing on Eric Voegelin's account of classical Greek culture in Order and History, Shuger imagines for the Bible in Renaissance Europe a role like that of Greek myth for the tragic poets of Athens: a narrative equivalent to theory, a body of myth that provides the symbolic language for exploration of social and ideological tensions (5). These tensions, she argues, are explored in various disciplines and discourses, each with its own genealogy, that converge in the "synthetic field" of the Bible's cultural presence. Shuger's ability to see both the distinctness and the interrelatedness of these domains is a striking achievement. ¶New historicism, as Shuger points out, has for the most part imagined a one-way traffic in which sacred practices and beliefs are appropriated and transformed for the uses of secular culture, as in the Elizabethan theater. In five beautifully written chapters The Renaissance Bible reconstructs the other side of this exchange, in which social and historical tensions imprint religious discourses as these begin to do the sorts of intellectual work later taken up by disciplines like anthropology and psychology. Chapter 1 describes a phase in the history of biblical exegesis to trace the gradual emergence within this field of something like modern cultural history: an attention to cultures as diverse, discontinuous systems of rules. This transformation results, in Shuger's account, from the converging influences of legal historiography and Hebrew studies; it takes shape within the tradition of biblical commentary as a philological and antiquarian emphasis that later historicisms have seen as merely antiquarian but is better understood as reflecting the assumption "that thick description provides a basis for cultural interpretation" (30). ¶This developing concern with the cultural locality of scripture produces a heightened sense not only of its historical reality but also of its alienness. Chapter 2 carries this argument to the central and most disturbing event of the Christian narrative: the "bloody sacrifice of Christ," writes Shuger, is "the point of maximal exemplarity and maximal estrangement" (53) for a society that is defined by sacrament of communion but finds rituals of human sacrifice incomprehensible. The study of Roman law once again provides a kind of matrix for theological speculation: the central figure of this chapter is Hugo Grotius, the preeminent legal scholar of his time, who sought to defend the doctrine of the Atonement by using the codes and customs of ancient societies to elucidate its moral logic. In the process, however, Grotius also succeeded in estranging its moral logic so thoroughly that the nascent anthropology of his treatise finally undermines its theological purpose: "it throws in stark relief the primitive character of sacrificial substitution and thus seems to raise serious difficulties about the moral basis of Christianity" (76).
In so doing, Grotius's De satisfactione performs a cultural estrangement similar to the one Greenblatt discerns in the European witness of human sacrifice among the Aztecs: it "discloses the rupture between archaic and modern culture, between sacrificial victims and ethical subjects" (81). ¶From this deep rupture between the sacrificial community and the ethical subject, Shuger traces across discursive formations the shiftings and bucklings that mark in its emergence the cultural production of the modern individual. It is difficult, in the space of a review, to convey the energy and clarity with which The Renaissance Bible maps its own strikingly original path across this familiar ground. Chapter 3 explores the resonance of the crucifixion story in Calvinist Passion narratives. The number of these published in England is small, but Shuger advances a large claim for them: in her view they constitute "the exemplary subtext for Calvinist representations of Christian selfhood," not only mirroring the paradigm of subjectivity that shapes other "Reformed discourses of experiential inwardness" but also revealing what these discourses suppress, "the appalling sacrificial subtext of the Calvinist subject" (90). They depict a repetitive cycle of cruelty and victimization in which the suffering of Christ leads not to redemption but to the vengeful destruction of Jerusalem--a dialectic in which victim and torturer trade places. The texts are characterized, too, by an explicit rhetoric of identification that exhorts the reader to recognize himself in all the drama's participants and thus to occupy both the position of torturer and that of victim. This rhetoric demands that the reader internalize, in what amounts to an "obligatory self-crucifixion," the cycle of violence reflected in the narrative (112). ¶Shuger argues that these texts "generate a rhetorical system of cross-identification in order to produce an unstable, divided selfhood, fissured by its own ambivalent responses to violence," and she links this selfhood suggestively to that of Shakespeare's tragic protagonists (99). What this system lacks is any subject-position capable of remaining outside the dialectic of suffering and torture--a vantage medieval culture afforded in the figure of the Virgin, whose availability as a point of identification tended to stabilize late-medieval contemplations of Christ's suffering but is conspicuously absent from both Shakespearean tragedy and the Calvinist passion narratives. Noting that "the texts represent violence primarily in terms of masculine identity rather than social conflict" (115), Shuger hypothesizes a link between the Passion narratives and a widespread crisis in cultural ideals of Christian manhood. This crisis she attributes to "changes in [the] culture's symbolic resources," specifically the Protestant and Erasmian discrediting of medieval types of ideal masculinity, the monk and the knight. This "loss of the ancient ideal images of masculine identity...produced, for a time, a sort of shuddering uncertainty about 'man's work,' about man's violence" (120). The narratives' emphasis on the destruction of Jerusalem further serves to link "the decomposition of manhood" to the growth of the early modern city: "this secular, bourgeois environment had little use for the traditional types of masculinity: the monk and the knight again" (126). ¶Shuger's fourth chapter returns to the notion of a rupture between the sacrificial economy of medieval Christianity and the "bourgeois ethos" of Protestantism, now to explore the hypothesis that "the development of Greek tragedy out of ancient ritual" is repeated in the Renaissance, where the rebirth of this classical genre coincides with "the Grotian moment when sacrifice begins to slip toward the archaic" (134). Her principal texts are drawn not from the secular drama of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century, but from mid-sixteenth-century neo-Latin literature. George Buchanan's Jephthah, Shuger argues, "narrates the aesthetic recuperation of the sacrificial" (164) in the wake of the Protestant drive to replace "the erotic and sacrificial spirituality of the medieval church with a practical theology based on the family, obedience, and, somewhat paradoxically, ethical rationalism....In Buchanan's play, as in ancient tragedy, earlier religious forms are transmuted into aesthetic pleasures, where 'aesthetic' now needs to be understood with numinous as well as erotic valences" (165).
The victim's gender is crucial to this mutation, for it is by fusing Jephthah's daughter with "the radiantly lovely woman of Greco-Roman poetry" (156) that Buchanan offers an aesthetic resolution, based on the eroticized beauty of the victim, to the ethical and theological dilemmas generated by the demand for sacrificial infanticide. Because her beauty also "figures the formal consolations of the tragic text" (158), she serves as a synecdoche generally for the use of pagan literary forms to represent Biblical narrative, and specifically for the recuperation of sacrifice not as ritual but as tragedy. Theodore Beza's Abraham sacrifiant, meanwhile, stands in clear contrast to Buchanan's Jephthah: Beza omits the female characters, mother and daughter, who are so prominent in Buchanan's play, and with them he omits the aesthetic resolution of the ethical impasse. Instead he poses starkly the contradiction between rational ethics and the demand for obedience, insisting on submission to the incomprehensible will of an alien God. This "counternarrative" to the "sacred neoclassicism" of Buchanan's text allies Beza's play with the Calvinist passion narratives of Chapter 2 in their insistence on the vindictive cruelty of the divine Father. Jephthah, on the other hand, looks forward to the secular drama, "not [as] a direct 'source' for later works but [as] the seminal allegory of their means of production" (166). ¶The fifth and final chapter of The Renaissance Bible explores the relation between the figure of the eroticized female, synthesized out of Biblical and classical sources, and the literary representation of subjectivity. Turning to a group of texts that retell the story of Mary Magdalene's vigil at the empty tomb, Shuger takes their portrait of erotic longing for the body of the dead Jesus as an occasion for revising the history of sexuality. Genital arousal as the master-trope of erotic experience, she argues, emerges from the Restoration polemic against religious enthusiasm; before 1650, the dominant model of desire is an "ocular eroticism" that might overlap with genital excitement but did not derive from it. The Magdalene texts use this model of eroticism to fuse the longing soul of the Canticles tradition with the Ovidian abandoned woman, and they identify the erotic sufferings of this compound figure directly with those of the crucified Christ. In doing so, they express a fundamental spiritual anxiety about the individual (male) soul's abandonment by God, but they also express a more doctrinally specific critique of Protestant "justification by faith": Mary, oblivious to the Resurrection, is saved entirely by love. The love that saves her in these texts is a complex trope representing Eucharistic eros (desire for the real presence of Christ in the communion) and embodying a premodern, counter-Protestant epistemology which "configures knowledge as an erotic praxis" (187).
Grasped in this context, Mary Magdalene prefigures the personal interiority of the private individual, but she does so by sustaining into the Renaissance a medieval model of erotic subjectivity that stands in sharp contrast to the implied subject of the Calvinist passion narratives, suggesting by its contrary persistence "that in Renaissance Protestantism violence replaces desire as the fundamental operation of the soul's pratique de soi" (189). ¶The Renaissance Bible floats wide-ranging generalizations about Renaissance transformations in the structures of subjectivity and sexuality, anchoring them in learned, carefully contextualized analyses of discourses that were of central importance to the period but have had relatively little influence on its modern critical reception and reconstruction. Therein lie both the originality of this work and its potential to alter our sense of the secular and vernacular texts that constitute, for us, "English literature." Therein too lies the need for testing its generalizations against wider ranges of cultural material. Spenser is barely mentioned in The Renaissance Bible, yet the central concern of Book I with Redcrosse's "obedience to the interior sacrificial command" (190) might well be read against the Calvinist passion narratives: do Una's recurrent interventions, or the allegory of the House of Holiness, offer a subject-position comparable to that of the Virgin Mother in the Stabat Mater, outside the dialectic of victimization? Spenser's pervasive concern in the middle books of The Faerie Queene with erotic experience offers an invaluable opportunity to extend, and perhaps to modify, Shuger's argument about premodern sexuality. What kind of articulation between spirituality, erotic longing, and genital sexuality can we discern in Alma's Castle, in the Garden of Adonis, or in the wounding imagery that culminates in Busyrane's penetration of Amoret's heart? ¶Finally, does Spenser's extensive treatment of visual eroticism offer an opportunity to develop Shuger's suggestive argument about premodern configurations of desire? Her description of the "ocular" mode is set in direct contrast to the modern (eventually, Freudian) model of sublimation, but readers of Lacan will recognize that his theory of an ocular drive bears a striking resemblance to the eroticism Shuger describes as premodern: in both, desire is caused by the image, which penetrates and devastates the viewer. Joel Fineman's brilliant, if problematic, use of Lacan in Shakespeare's Perjured Eye to describe the invention of a new "poetic subjectivity" offers a complex argument about the sexuality of vision, and I think it fair to say that Shuger's claims for her argument need to be measured against Fineman's work. Given Lacan's reliance on Holbein's anamorphic The Ambassadors in his seminar on "the Gaze," a conjunction between poststructural psychoanalysis and premodern sexuality appears plausible. Given the sophistication of Spenser's narrative and allegorical explorations of visual desire--the poet of The Faerie Queene seems just as uncannily conversant with Lacanian theory as, in Fineman's account, the poet of the Sonnets turns out to be--I wonder why this extraordinary poem should not occasion a fundamental reconsideration of the Renaissance erotic episteme. For anyone undertaking such a reconsideration, Debora Shuger's speculations in The Renaissance Bible would be a good place to start.

[David Lee Miller]

Access Number: 1996.047
File Name: Sp962

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Chances of Mischief: Variations of Fortune in Spenser. Anglistische Studien, 9. Cologne and Vienna: B÷hlau Verlag, 1990, 377 pp.

To praise this book would almost amount to an impertinence. In general, Steppat traces Fortune and her cognates through Spenser's metamorphic uses. Renaissance Christian humanistic and rationalistic thought demythologised Fortune ("psychic integration" [51]), a repression on which she takes her revenge in psychological return; she acts from within and without figuratively and literally, directly and through cognates and surrogates. Some figures directly reflect iconographic traditions: Duessa, Lucifera, Philotime....Others are associated less explicitly: Archimago, Turpine, the Brigands and the Beast. Fortune's conventional accoutrements appear in the Wheel (Belge); Guyon's voyage to the Bower and Mutability's wheel form "suggestive parallels" (328); tempest imagery is also a cognate, an "energising catalyst to set static images in motion and reveal meaning" (328). Traditional remedies against variations of Fortune (ill-fortune, mis-fortune, occasion, time, fate, accident, mala, and bifrons, etc.) are tried and found wanting (318): boldness, reason, occasion, will, otium; Nature is fallen and so far ineffective; Divine Grace is more helpful, but itself often works through fortuity; neither is Art (the poem) beyond the reach of Fortune's cognates. Nor is Fortune simply opposed to "virtue's antinomial structure" (327), she is one effective element educating knight and reader to penetrate literal surfaces, as in Artegall's appropriation of guile (225 ff.) or Burbon's discarded shield (240 ff., but cf. 256--an instructive reading moving beyond the relentless historical allegorizing and weakening the suggestion that Spenser was patching things together in despair, by revealing it as a proper and necessary part of the moral allegory). While the most powerful temptation is sloth--a (fallible) escape from Fortune's rages (330)--its opposite, the unrelenting heroic self, is reductive and hollow. Closure (a form of sloth) is the great enemy of virtue and equally ineffective against Fortune's envy. ¶But Spenser is little interested in Fortune's iconography, in reinterpretation, in neat philosophical or theological consolations. His method is "the weaning of attributes and functions from a mother image, weaving skeins of antonomasia" (328). Steppat follows suit, playing from an extraordinary hand. It is a deeply learned, restless, energetic, fecund book, moving quickly, even relentlessly back and forth over itself and its poem like a shuttle. Unifying and justifying it is the Fortune nexus put to work for interpretation. It is a difficult book, no concessions are made to the reader. It rarely proceeds by statement and evidence, but rather by suggestion, accumulation, analogy, unmarked backward references, poetic devices and constructions of its own; the trajectory is close to that of the poem, at all times we are close to, intimate with, the text: Steppat must have The Faerie Queene by heart. ¶To come to the main chapters, each is devoted to its Book, Mutabilitie Cantos included as the last and completing Book. Summary is hopeless, but some (brutal) generalisations might be attempted: In Book I Fortune participates in Grace: retribution and temptation functions provide chances or occasions for Grace. Guyon confronts hostile fortune with will and reason--the great tempters of Book II replace providential order by "arbitrary fortune's mundane enticements"--but the response (willed safety), while necessary, is limiting. Later Artegall (after Scudamore) must discover that one's own will is not to be equated with fortune--good or ill. Chaste love (Book III) transcends (and discards 125) reason like both Providence and Fortune; Fortune fills out occasion for surrender to the "overflowing irrationally shape-shifting measureless unknown--the realm of love: Venus is born from the sea" (156). Ate (Book IV) disorders the cosmos in exploiting the "mischievous contrasts between friendship and love" (180): only the openness of chaste love seizes (mis)chance to repair breeches between lovers and friends.
This adversity of Fortune to Nature is not natural, but a psychic disorder (172). Britomart's boldness is trust in Grace, Scudamore's a show of will; but not all forces uncontrollable by the will are blind chance: there is also a cosmos (Book V) whose order in human affairs must be understood and protected. And thus Artegall fails: by accepting Radigund's challenge to "try" their "fortune", he surrenders to Fortune against Nature, a theme taken up in the challenge of one Fortune figure, to another, Mutability to Nature (Mutabilitie Cantos). ¶Dwelling on Chapter Six (Book VI): Fortune gives success in challenge and trial as a gift, not always as reward for personal achievement (259). Nature is opposed to nurture, but once the idyllic calm of an unfulfilling repose is shattered, Fortune may be aligned with nature (260). There is a good defense of Calidore from his detractors. Heroic questing is questioned ("too intricately bound up with Fame, Fortune's sister, to be adequate against infamy's mischance" [272]). There is no easy solution to the slaughter of the innocents (Turpine in V, the shepherds and Meliboee in VI). And above all there is Fortune as brute envy. Chance is double-edged. Openness to chance and hence Providence becomes in Book VI mutual humility (a form of justice), a recognition in the face of hostile fortune of the need for courtesy in civil society: "vulnerability [through "worldly chaunces"] becomes part of the heroic code" (276, cf. 293 and 305). ¶There is not one of the statements above which is not qualified and altered with continual exposition, sometimes by implication only: one has the sense that like the heart of its subject, Steppat's book is a becoming. And this might lead to a fear that he is not always consistent, that, to stay in Chapter Six, he at first seems to argue with some vigour that the white lie, the just or innocent guile learned from Artegal, is acceptable; but then to show that, as with deceit and guile in the previous chapter, it is a colonization of enemy territory that is or can be subversive; stoutly defending Calidore's attempts to please, he later suggests that they are insufficient; and from suggesting a more optimistic than usual reading of Book VI, he later appears to call it despairing. Such a fear, besides turning out groundless (the critic doing nothing more than refusing simplification and following his poet's methods of exposition), would miss the essential: discovering where exactly the author stands is not the point. Rather than assert theses, Steppat engages on a project, that of modern exposition from a particular historical tradition. ¶There is a great deal of traditional historically based criticism, but it is only a beginning. The historical and philological has been so thoroughly thought out that one might be reading meta-criticism predicated (or parasitic) upon carefully worked out and highly detailed spade work, which is consequently submerged. An ideal approach. Noticing for instance, that is it a personified Fortune defeated at I.viii.43, Steppat observes that the abstract power at I.ix.44 is therefore "all the more effective as temptation," and this leads him to observe that Duessa's "ways unknowne" are those which lead from "embodiment to abstraction" and back again (71, n.32). ¶Another powerful technique of reading, again parasitic, is that of seeing or creating (Steppat warily thrives on reader constructions, see 176-7) mutually illuminating parallels and echoes--some real, some more mischievous, but always illuminating the broader scope; as if characters who never meet, or dispersed images and stanzas were in conversation: a bruited circulation keeps each part in touch with every other, unities which only emerge within a reader. ¶Britomart's lament at 3.4 "anticipates--and probably generates--the enactment of Florimell's oppression by the sea" (153). The "lowde thunder" (II.ii.20) and "raging winds" (II.ii.24) become Braggadochio's "big thundering voice" (II.iii.7) (123). The "'stiffe' stride" of "Saturnian Disdain" "becomes the quality of the boats oars and steering in Canto 12 ... the 'rigour' of Guyon's tempestuous wrath." A lightening simile expressing Timias" passion for Belphoebe (III.v.48) "sets off" that signalising "the union of Britomart and Artegall" (, (151).
Ate's contrariness is that of the Cosmos in Proem V (168), the giant's attempt to restore equality to all things a "response" to her work, more dangerous still (168), and Britomart's "moyst mountains" (III.iv.8) "answer" those of II.xii.21 (154). (See a dense collection of such things on 122 and n. 64.) For illuminating mischief, see p. 256: "Adicia...escapes to the 'savage' woods at V.ix.1, tiger-like, at large at least until VI.x.34." Behind such observations lies an assimilated and highly compressed reading which does not always appear in the footnotes, copious and rewarding though they already are. ¶More directly technical effects are brought to play: alliteration, assonance and rhyme for instance (e.g. 131-34). Or puns: to Trevisan "great grace" had saved him from Despair, but to Redcrosse, "grace" is merely a "synonym" of "favour": "Of grace do me unto his cabin guide" (69). A telling observation which illustrates the larger analysis. Despair then picks up Redcrosse's near fatal literal-mindedness to develop his opening gambit: "Is not great grace to help him overpast"? (I.ix.39). Illustrating a point about temptation in Book II, Steppat notes of that the rhyme moving from "rest" to "distrest" to "jest" "helps to define the perils of repose" (95). There are times when this can be overdone; sometimes, though not in this book, it is the sign of a reader wilfully ignoring the recalcitrance of the greater text to fit some reading or method, but Steppat possesses the disappearing virtue of tact. Nothing is pressed too far, no claims are more absolute than the text, the method or particular style of evidence-generation at the moment warrant. He is alert to the distinction between illustration and evidence (see, e.g. p. 167, n.3). ¶In so wealthy a book there are things to argue over. As to detail there is no point in picking on this or that. As to method it is difficult to imagine how so copious a critical response might raise serious technical objections. It will, on the other hand, be evident from such description as given above that Fortune's skein can be discerned in the smallest stitch: one might say that a tradition used to interpret everything explains nothing. Some will not be convinced by Steppat's seeing fortune in the most casual of expressions: when one says "what jolly bad luck then" one is not necessarily calling on a Fortune tradition. But Steppat's point is not to argue that Spenser or his text is doing, using, alluding to this or that, nor certainly to defend an extra-textual theory, but rather: armed with this tradition and its myriad cognates, whether explicitly on the surface, or faintly discernable and sub-textual, and at the same time armed with seemingly every possible critical technique, to ask, what can be made of the poem? How do these things enable us to read? Luxurious abundance of insight and suggestion defend method by result.

[Julian B. Lethbridge]

Access Number: 1996.048
File Name: Sp962

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