Historical Changes and Exchanges as Depicted by Spenser in the Faerie Queene

Author: Bulger, Thomas
This study identifies the most important attitudes toward history found within the individual books of the poem. Second, it explores the relevance and function of these historical perspectives to the particular fictional episodes in which they arise. Third, it defines Spenser's concept of historical being. Unlike other treatments of The Faerie Queene's use of history, this study does not decipher the text for allusions to Spenser's historical contemporaries, nor does it reduce the poem to a specific philosophy of history. This inquiry explores the integrity of Spenser's polysemous presentation of historical existence as a totality.


"I know of no other work that sets out to map Spenser's complex view(s) of history and of the role of the individual as an historical being intensely struggling to reconcile time with eternity, the exigencies of chance and material event with a faith in the benign ordering of providence. Bulger's chapter-by-chapter mapping of this domain is clear, judicious, and persuasive. . . . he situates the details of the Spenserian text within a philosophical paradigm, identifies Spenser's view of that paradigm, and then renders Spenser's complex reflection on that view. This kind of sophistication makes Bulger's work pleasurable to read; it's also thought to cherish." -- Patrick Cheney

"Younger scholars embarking upon advanced study of Spenser will find the book helpful and consoling as a counter-check to the wilder waves of theory and to what Robert Potts has called 'the dire influence of modern critical jargon.' And experienced veterans will pull out a variety of plums from Bulger's carefully prepared Spenserian pie. The study deserves to take its quiet place on the bookshelves of the wiser sort among Spenser scholars." -- Hugh Maclean