Victoria Coldham-Fussell
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The introduction surveys historical patterns of interest in, and resistance to, the humour of The Faerie Queene. It introduces comic theory via its traditional schools (‘superiority’, ‘incongruity’, ‘relief’) and by exploring three largely interdependent principles that have been linked to humour since antiquity: ‘reduction’, ‘ambiguity’, and ‘play’. The second half of the introduction characterises Spenserian humour in relation to these latter principles. It draws a connection between The Faerie Queene’s insistent bathos and the Christian – and especially Protestant – understanding that humans cannot be heroes. The central role of Spenser’s humble and unreliable narrator is emphasised.

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Comic Spenser

Faith, folly, and ‘The Faerie Queene’


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