Displacing Virgilian Figures in Spenser’s Faerie Queene
This chapter examines Edmund Spenser's adoption of Virgilian forms as tools of English courtesy, including the figure hyperbaton, in book 6 of Faerie Queene. It explains the periodically uneasy attempts of English rhetorics to translate hyperbaton into the vernacular and how Spenser accommodates it in the verse of Faerie Queene. Just as the English rhetorics attempt to conjure a common space of vernacular eloquence, linked to an idea of the English country while also organized according to classical tradition, the chapter argues that Faerie Queene also invents a new geography—Faery—that allows the classical past and English present to converge in a single location. It shows that hyperbaton may be Virgilian in its origin and associations, but Spenser resettles it in Faerie Queene in English speech, domesticating it within the lines of what he calls his “homely verse” at the end of book 6.
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