Movement and measurement
in Edmund Spenser and the romance of space
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This chapter expands on Spenser’s interests in the rhetoric of error and considers the ways in which The Faerie Queene constantly questions the nature of directive authority: in Spenser’s poem, a succession of figures representing false and true guidance results in the creation of an epistemological geography concerned with measurement, orientation, and memory. The chapter focuses on the relationship between the body and the determination of whereabouts in order to think about how Spenser uses ‘moving metaphor’ to model states of virtue and knowing; it tests the premise that Spenser’s allegories engage in debates concerning not only the mode’s efficacy but also the extent to which man, to borrow the formulation of Protagoras, can truly be considered as ‘the measure of all things’. The chapter reads across the first and second book of The Faerie Queene and finds cognate moments of compromised movement in works including Geoffrey Chaucer’s The House of Fame and Thomas Browne’s Pseudodoxica Epidemica, thus enriching the chapter’s reading of the key role that questions of motion and authority play in Spenser’s fictions.

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