Introduction
in Edmund Spenser and the romance of space
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This section foregrounds the idea that the fictions of the late sixteenth century are shaped by a slippery epistemological moment, in which the wanderings of romance, and its relationship to epic and allegory, were called into question by new ways of making knowledge. In order to frame the readings of the curious spaces and geographies of Edmund Spenser’s generically hybrid writings, the opening of this book draws attention to how spatial images are used to perform, describe, and interrogate knowledge-making processes. The imaginative travail Spenser asks of his readers finds parallels in the perceptual travail demanded by early modern authors of non-fiction. These voices are more than contextual aids: reading Spenser’s poetry and prose also helps us to appreciate their strategies more fully. The literary ‘making’ that happens at Spenser’s hands is no less present in the work of his practically-minded contemporaries. The introduction also situates the book’s arguments within existing critical discussions.

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