Title

Despaire and Briton Moniments: Moments of Protestant Clarity in The Faerie Queene

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2020

Publisher

Taylor & Francis

Source Publication

Reformation

Source ISSN

1357-4175

Original Item ID

DOI: 10.1080/13574175.2020.1824708

Abstract

Two moments in The Faerie Queene, the Redcrosse Knight's rescue from suicide in the cave of Despaire and Arthur's rapture at reading the truncated chronicle of the Britons, are strangely similar. In each case, the hermeneutic openness that seems to be developing is halted and closed in favor of a unified, simplified, syllogistic certitude. Though both Despaire's speeches and Briton Moniments are ripe for interrogation, Redcrosse is saved by the Practical Syllogism, and Arthur reacts with an outpouring of patriotic fervor. With some matters, proliferation of thought and feeling though ordinarily salutary must be suspended. Protestantism's simplifying strain did make an impression on Spenser. Returning to known truths of special and general providence is periodically necessary for maintaining an overall openness to ambiguity, intricacy, and dialogue. With a focus on these parallel episodes, this discussion both contributes to our understanding of The Faerie Queene's hermeneutic fluidity by looking closely at exceptions in it, and thereby proposes how a major current of Protestant thought inflects Spenserian poetics.

Comments

Reformation, Vol. 25, No. 2 (2020): 175-191. DOI.

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