Comic Spenser

Faith, folly, and The Faerie Queene

By Victoria Coldham-Fussell

Comic Spenser


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Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-3111-9
  • Pages: 256
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £85.00
  • Published Date: March 2020
  • BIC Category: Early Modern Literature, Literature, POETRY / General, LITERARY CRITICISM / Modern / 16th Century, LITERARY CRITICISM / General, Literature & literary studies / Literature: history & criticism, Literature & literary studies / Literary studies: poetry & poets, Literature & literary studies / Literary studies: c 1500 to c 1800
  • Series: The Manchester Spenser


Once a byword for Protestant sobriety and moral idealism, Spenser is now better known for his irony and elusiveness. But this study argues that his sense of humour is still underestimated and misunderstood. In a series of bold reinterpretations of key episodes in The Faerie Queene, Victoria Coldham-Fussell demonstrates that humour goes to the heart of Spenser's moral and doctrinal preoccupations. She charts amusing rifts between the poem's ambitious and idealising postures and its Protestant vision of corruptible human nature; yet contends that Spenserian humour is an expression of tolerance and faith as well as an instrument of satire. This study's application of modern comic theory to a key text of the English Renaissance and its detailed survey of the comic influences that shaped Spenser's literary milieu will be indispensable to teachers of the Renaissance period, to students of comic literature, and to established Spenserians.


'Laudably clear and jargon-free and including extensive notes, Comic Spenser will be useful for nonspecialists, and it will open intriguing avenues of interpretation for more advanced students. Coldham-Fussell provides extensive notes.'
(Reprinted with permission from Choice Reviews. All rights reserved. Copyright by the American Library Association.)


List of Abbreviations
Chapter 1 Spencer and the comic Renaissance
Chapter 2 Humour and Heroism
Chapter 3 Spenser's Bawdy; Or, Red Crosse's Problem with Desire
Chapter 4 Laughing at Love: FQ III-IV
Chapter 5 Parody and Panegyric
Epilogue Humour and Allegory


Victoria Coldham-Fussell is a freelance writer and independent scholar

Manchester University Press

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