A context for The Faerie Queene

Edmund Spenser and the first readers of The Faerie Queene routinely heard their national concerns—epidemics, political plotting, recent Tudor history—discussed in biblical terms. This book samples contemporary sermons, homilies, and liturgies to demonstrate that religious rhetoric, with its routine use of biblical types (for Elizabeth, the Spanish threat, and Mary Stuart, among many others) trained Spenser’s original readers to understand The Faerie Queene’s allegorical method. Accordingly, the first three chapters orient the reader to allegorical and typological reading in biblical commentary, occasional liturgies, and sermons. This pulpit literature illuminates many episodes and characters within the poem, and subsequent chapters discuss some of these. For instance, the genealogies Guyon and Arthur discover in Book Two parallel sermon lists of Elizabeth’s kingly forebears as well as biblical commentary on the genealogies provided for Jesus in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. Florimell’s adventures in Books Three and Four, like contemporary marriage sermons, develop an allegory of the superiority of marriage over the single state. Likewise, the preachers’ treatment of the Northern Rebellion and the threat posed by Mary Stuart show biblical typology in the service of nationalism, much as the allegory of Book Six finds a way to celebrate Elizabeth’s execution of her cousin. In these cases, as in the Souldan episode, Book Six’s analysis of courtesy, and the Mutability Cantos, Elizabethan religious rhetoric lends support to traditional readings of the poem, indicating that Spenser’s original readers probably found The Faerie Queene less conflicted and subversive than many do today.

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Allegory The image of Ettore on the bed of penitence in prison in Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Mamma Roma (1962) is seen from an extreme low angle, radically foreshortened. The perspective, the angle of view and the position of Ettore almost exactly reproduces the painting of The Dead Christ (c. 1500) of the fifteenth-century Italian Renaissance painter Andrea Mantegna. A series of likenesses are posed in the film between unlike things: the delinquent, confused, miserable Ettore, child of the borgate, and Christ the Saviour; the whore, Mamma Roma, and the mother of

in Film modernism
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The parable of the Good Samaritan

142 The politics of Middle English parables 4 Ethical allegories: the parable of the Good Samaritan … and siþþe þus I hym tolde How þat feiþ fleiȝ awey and Spes his felawe boþe For sighte of þe sorweful segge þat robbed was with þeues. ‘Haue hem excused’, quod he; ‘hir help may litel auaille.’ (Piers Plowman B 17.90b–93)1 To an even greater degree than the story of Dives and Lazarus, the Good Samaritan parable (Luke 10:25–37) appears on its surface to be a moral exemplum: it showcases charitable good living, almost hyperbolically, and ends with an explicit

in The politics of Middle English parables
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The Others and its contexts

) and El laberinto del fauno/Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) all return to the context of the Spanish Civil War (1936–39) and its bigger sister, World War II (1939–45) to tell stories about children caught between reality, fantasy, horror and allegory. In his essay on ‘Historical Allegory’, Ismail Xavier offers a history and analysis of the persistence of allegory in Western narrative

in Contemporary Spanish cinema and genre

1 Intertextuality and allegory in Virgil’s Eclogues Servius and political allegory Virgil’s chief innovation in pastoral, it has long been recognized, is his introduction of contemporary political realities. Theocritus’ Idylls are varied in subject matter, sometimes set in a bustling city, sometimes speaking of or addressing contemporary rulers, sometimes miniaturizing heroic epic, but the group of idylls recognized in antiquity as ‘bucolic songs’ deal with herdsmen concerned mainly with singing and with love, in a world apparently sealed off from the events of

in Spenser and Virgil
Old and new

established in the first century of the Common Era and thus practiced by New Testament authors, and in the sense that many scriptural passages developed “traditional” (that is to say, standard or fixed) readings very early. This chapter uses the parable of the sower (itself an allegory) and the brief narrative of the rivalry between Mary and Martha (presented in the scriptures as literal but nevertheless subject to allegoresis) to sample what the Fathers say about their approach to scripture’s non-literal sense, which they call “a similitude,” or “spiritual” and “mystical

in Spenserian allegory and Elizabethan biblical exegesis
Mercilla and other Elizabethan types

“unwritten, unwritable proceeding [that] is the guileful heart of Book V.”42 The juxtaposition of the trial scene with the disquieting image of the libelous poet Malfont’s punishment has suggested to some that Spenser is alerting readers that, throughout this section, the real subject is power relations between poet and monarch, or the metacritical insight that allegory requires readers to comply with its own vision of meaning and “misrecognize” truths other than the one it communicates.43 (Spenser’s intention is then to 41 See Diane Parkin-Speer, “Allegorical Legal Trials

in Spenserian allegory and Elizabethan biblical exegesis
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comments bear this out. Indeed, Austen Saunders’s recent discovery that John Dixon, The Fairie Queene’s earliest marginalian, transcribed some of his most apparently “personal and complex allegorical response[s]‌” directly from the apparatus of the Geneva Bible makes my point almost too perfectly.1 On the other hand, when Spenserians talk or write about allegory nowadays, they often identify the psychological or cognitive work the mode does for its practitioner (whether reader or writer). Here is Kenneth Gross: allegories feed our fantasies that ideas have a fate

in Spenserian allegory and Elizabethan biblical exegesis
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A context for The Faerie Queene

. At the remove of four centuries, however, it is more likely that explicitly religious rhetoric, rather than Spenser’s historical fiction, will seem displeasant, or at least unfamiliar. Spenserian Allegory and Elizabethan Biblical Exegesis introduces the reader to this once-ubiquitous religious rhetoric and its approach to the Bible. In showing something of how Spenser and his contemporaries read and listened to the Bible, the book will also demonstrate how sermons, homilies, and liturgies trained original readers to understand Spenser’s allegorical method and thus

in Spenserian allegory and Elizabethan biblical exegesis
Allegories of the Armada

129 6 Saracens, Assyrians, and Spaniards: allegories of the Armada This book contends that recapturing the biblical learning of Spenser’s contemporaries can help twenty-first-century readers appreciate the allegorical method at work in The Faerie Queene. As Chapters 2 and 3 demonstrate, Elizabethan liturgies and sermons inculcated a collective national experience which was pervasively biblical. Cultural familiarity with typology meant that preachers discussed recent and contemporary figures in biblical terms:  Anne Boleyn as Esther, Mary Tudor as Athaliah,1

in Spenserian allegory and Elizabethan biblical exegesis