My Gentle Readers,
Perhaps you do not know my love for Edmund Spenser and his wonderful epic The Faerie Queene. Well now you do. World, meet my obsession, my academic love. In fact, I love ol' Spenser so much that I am planning to make his epic the center of my dissertation research (Oh and this blog's title is a direct quote from the first stanza of his work). So let me tell you a bit about The Faerie Queene.
First, you should know it is epic, as in an epic. Truth. But this is not your Virgilian lets-follow-one-man's-exploits epic, nope, Spenser's is what we might call a Romantic epic. It is episodic (some have called it Ovidian - I cringe at such arguments) and it is about knights. I generally find it quite temporally complex and problematic. Spenser starts plot lines, forgets them, and then just picks them back up again 50 pages later. Can we say super fun times? Also, it is often allegorical. This is not your Bunyanesque style allegory, but rather a dynamic varying text. When you met Truth, she might be Truth, she might just be a good Christian woman, she might be crazies, oh and her name is never Truth but Una - Listen to the context and you will go far.
So why the breakdown? Well I want to throw out my thoughts, my project, what hopefully will be life for 5-6 years in the very near future, and I want some feedback. Any thoughts would be amazing. So here goes.
So I find the allegory in Spenser to be the most interesting part of the text. As you know, I come from the school of thought that excepts that langauge is a fluid, dynamic, and at the end of the day constantly slipping - in fact, this seems pretty standard in the academy. Well, for me, this problem of language does not change when we start talking allegory. Just because some writer has titled his character Christian, it does not mean that the character at plot level ever fully jives with the higher ideal he is meant to represent (Even if Bunyan wants him to). The reason I love Spenser is that I feel he accepts this problem, and in a sense he plays with it. As such when we meet Errour, yes she embodies the ideal of error. She slows down our hero, prevents him from seeing or moving forward. But at the same time Errour is a mother protecting her off-spring (no matter how ugly) from an obvious threat. While I accept that this reading is not standard, the text allows for it, even makes space for it.
It is this space then that I see my future work. I want to talk about objects in Spenser. What I want to show is how Spenser plays on the cultural coding that we place around objects, exposing their inherent slippage - in a sense, for me, objects function just as allegorical characters. Thus when we see a book, we associate it with knowledge, etc. But what Spenser does, through using these objects as obvious allegorical tools, is to expose the inherent disconnect between the object and its cultural matrix. In a sense, Spenser will become a way for me to revisit the ways in which objects are in process for us, and more importantly, how they resist the meanings we try to encode on them.
Hopefully, over the course of the next few weeks I can post a few short "papers" with specific close readings helping to show what I am doing. Your help would be awesome!
Your Humble Author