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couplets of eighteenth-century satire. Donne’s Metempsychosis sets out to trace the progress of a soul from the Garden of Eden to the present age but gets only as far as the first generation of Adam’s descendants. The Cantos of Mutabilitie have come willy-nilly to serve as conclusion to Spenser’s unfinished and unfinishable Faerie Queene. Each of these poems is deeply concerned with questions of moral and physical decay, the instability of species, the subversion of hierarchy, the transmission of poetic form, 1 and poetic reputation, and each uses Ovid to sharpen

in Spenser and Donne
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Spenser, Donne, and the philosophic poem

hypothesis, intimations of infinite space, and the increasing decentring of humanity within a contingent universe. Spenser may be thinking here of Giordano Bruno, who lectured at Oxford in 1583 (mentioning Copernicus) and published The Ash-Wednesday Supper , a dialogue on Copernicanism dedicated to Sir Philip Sidney, in 1584. 15 Spenser’s straying Zodiac is a sign of both moral failure and a failure of epistemic understanding: the random roving of the stars and planets is an obvious mirror of earthly disorder, but it also registers a crisis of human knowledge about the

in Spenser and Donne

directly linked to how they view Greene’s claims to moral motivations for his writings. 18 Yet perhaps more significantly, how one views Greene’s repentance also has implications for how one views his authorial persona and the extent of his professionalism. Unfortunately, the matter is far from clear-cut, since the only available accounts of Greene’s repentance – his own works and three posthumous pamphlets purporting to be by him – are unreliable as sources. Greene’s prefaces suggest that he was very conscious of his authorial persona and encouraged autobiographical

in English literary afterlives
The Merchant of Venice, Measure for Measure, Twelfth Night

traditionally attracted actors. The interrogations of comic fulfilment in Measure for Measure are less narrowly focused: its moral ambiguities notoriously touch virtually all of the principal characters and situations. The present approach will, however, throw into relief a less familiar locus of the tragic: the Claudius-like conscientious torment of the angelic ‘devil’ at its centre. And if the tragic overtones accruing to the trickery and humiliation of Malvolio in Twelfth Night are comparatively muted, they nevertheless issue in a resounding declaration of generic

in The Shakespearean comic and tragicomic
The view through French spectacles

produced by François de Chantelouve – the tragedy of Pharaon (1577), which (in my reading) figures the Duke of Guise as a divinely inspired heathen-slaughtering Moses, 34 and his ferocious defence of the St Bartholomew’s massacre as a divine deliverance from diabolical menace, La tragédie de feu Gaspard de Colligny (1575). 35 The latter’s ending evokes a sense of wonder at the workings of providence that, allowing for a radical difference in theological and moral perspective, is not totally unlike that engendered by the conclusions of Pericles or Cymbeline – or

in The Shakespearean comic and tragicomic
Aspects of Ramist rhetoric

as a moral and political allegory further draws our attention towards the message itself rather than how the message is conveyed, which is probably why there are so few successful analyses of rhetoric in the poem compared to the inundation of message- and motive-oriented interpretations. 26 The word ‘motive’, however, is wittily used by Arthur Burke to discover a matrix of motives in the poem that could lead to a structural study, for example by looking for the motive of courtship in the poem. 27 Following Burke’s lead Michael Dixon wrote a rhetorical

in Spenser and Donne
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text (as is hardly unusual for the period), it is obvious that the action shifts regularly from one set of ‘lovers’ to another, and it is apparently on this note that these two exit, whether together or separately (probably the latter). The stage is thus cleared for the reappearance of Nymphis in search of Jullie. His exhaustion, like that of the solitary Hermia, ‘Never so weary, never so in woe’ ( MND , III.ii.442), is at once physical and moral: Je suis lassé d’entourner ces forests, Ces prez, ces champs, & ces fascheux deserts, Pour rencontrer ma

in The Shakespearean comic and tragicomic
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Figures of comparison and repetition in Spenser’s Cantos of Mutabilitie and Donne’s Anniversaries

thinking with the figure and about the figure’. 13 First published in 1609, the Cantos of Mutabilitie were written some time after 1596, probably in the year before Spenser’s death in 1599. 14 Marked by the chaos of the colonial conflict in Ireland and expressive of the poet’s growing scepticism, they are ‘late’ poems in numerous ways, especially in the manner they complicate moral allegory, perhaps fatally so, with other figurations. 15 The two Anniversaries , the first subtitled An Anatomie of the World (1611) and the second Of the Progres of the Soule

in Spenser and Donne
Love’s Labour’s Lost and As You Like It

should be nothing but a memory – and, symbolically, a testament – when the play begins. Lodge, on the other hand, opens his narrative with a straightforward portrait of this wise and valiant knight, then gives him a deathbed oration dispensing moral advice in a style recalling Polonius, but more euphuistic. It includes a pointed (‘above all’ 27 ) warning against love and, particularly, the temptations of women – incongruously enough for the subsequent narrative, one would have thought, and out of the question as a model for As You Like It . Shakespeare’s renaming of

in The Shakespearean comic and tragicomic

rationale was that ‘a man once grounded so far in learning as to deserve a Bachelor in Arts is sufficiently furnished to proceed in study by himself’. 33 Candidates, however, had to supply testimonials from three clergymen regarding their moral character. Spenser's grace was passed on 26 June 1576; he ranked sixty-seventh in a class of seventy – probably in part because of his non

in The early Spenser, 1554–80