The art of The Faerie Queene

By Richard Danson Brown

The art of <i>The Faerie Queene</i>


  • Paperback
  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-8732-5
  • Pages: 328
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £85.00
  • Published Date: December 2018
  • BIC Category: Early Modern Literature, Literary studies: poetry & poets, Elizabethan era (1558–1603), LITERARY CRITICISM / Renaissance, LITERARY CRITICISM / European / English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Literature & literary studies / Literature: history & criticism, Literature & literary studies / Literary studies: c 1500 to c 1800
  • Series: The Manchester Spenser


The Art of The Faerie Queene is the first book centrally focused on the forms and poetic techniques employed by Spenser. It offers a sharp new perspective on Spenser by rereading The Faerie Queene as poetry which is at once absorbing, demanding and experimental. Instead of the traditional conservative model of Spenser as poet, this book presents the poem as radical, edgy and unconventional, thus proposing new ways of understanding the Elizabethan poetic Renaissance. The book moves from the individual words of the poem to metre, rhyme and stanza form onto its larger structures of canto and book. It will be of particular relevance to undergraduates studying Elizabethan poetry, graduate students and scholars of Renaissance poetry, for whom the formal aspect of the poetry has been a topic of growing relevance in recent years.


'Brown's magisterial monograph revises traditionalist views of Spenser and his place in the literary canon, instead placing him at the forefront of new literary trends and developments.'
Maik Goth, Ruhr-Universitat Bochum, The Review of English Studies

'Brown (Open Univ.) analyzes the poetic techniques Spenser used in the creation of his epic poem The Faerie Queene. Working systematically, Brown begins with a consideration of the poem's diction and the way in which Spenser's choice of words affects the reader. He then proceeds to an examination of lineation and meter, and then to a discussion of Spenser's rhymes. The final three chapters tackle progressively larger poetic units: the construction of the individual stanza, the ways in which cantos work and network together, and the narrative technique of the individual book.'
B. E. Brandt, emeritus, South Dakota State University, Choice

'The Art is organized in a pleasing crescendo, working upwards chapter by chapter from words, to lines, to rhyme groups, to stanzas, cantos, and finally the whole poem. At all levels, it proceeds not by deductions from the allegory, but by induction from linguistic patterns, and Brown's ambition is to refresh our reading by close attention to considerations of style . Brown's work with Lethbridge on the Concordance has meant that he can never unhear the desultory iambic shuffle of the stanza going through its courteous motions. But he has remained alert to those moments - and they are so many; and from reading to reading, are they ever the same moments twice? - when mere half-hearted ceremony quickens into revelation. That effect is a distinctive art of The Faerie Queene, to which his book is now our best guide.'
The Spenser Review


Introduction: tightrope walking in an afflicted style
1: Doubtful words: the vocabulary of The Faerie Queene
2: Uncommon lines: lineation and metre
3: Proportionable returns: rhyme, meaning and experience
4: Unusual staff: the archaeology of the Spenserian stanza
5: Another cast in different hews: canto form
6: Spacious ways: narratives and narrators
Appendix: stanza lead words


Richard Danson Brown is Professor of English Literature at The Open University

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