Feyned no where acts
in Edmund Spenser and the romance of space
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This chapter moves the discussion away from allegory into new generic terrain and attends to the spatial paradoxes and utopian drives of romance, paying particular attention to the relationship between the natural environment and the landscape of chivalry. Romance is traditionally associated with marvellous settings and the traversal of impossible distance; yet, in the late sixteenth century, the mode was also associated with inertia, passivity, and the petrifaction of knowledge. It is famed for its dilatory qualities and its tendency to postpone endings for the delight and entertainment of an audience; however, as critics such as Andrew King have observed, Spenser’s Faerie Queene offers a radical reassessment of the mode. In Spenser’s hands, the epistemological strategies of romance allow for both deliberate plotting and regressive drift, and the chapter places particular emphasis on the capacity of imaginative literature to confront conditions of uncertainty and ignorance.

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