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Reading the Allegorical IntertextChaucer, Spenser, Shakespeare, Milton$
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Judith H. Anderson

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780823228478

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823228478.001.0001

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Chaucer's and Spenser's Reflexive Narrators

Chaucer's and Spenser's Reflexive Narrators

(p.27) 1. Chaucer's and Spenser's Reflexive Narrators
Reading the Allegorical Intertext

Judith H. Anderson

Fordham University Press

Tales of Sir Thopas and Melibee represents the poet Chaucer, and these tales reflect the poet's craft and the kind of poetry he writes. Spenser understood Chaucer's self-representations in terms of large, symbolic patterns of The Faerie Queene. He aligned Sir Thopas and Melibee consistently with the pleasure principle with its harsh price. Spenser's name never appears explicitly within his poetry or within his English poetry. His narrator becomes the socially contextualized speaker of the Proems and self-citational figure whose word not only recalls earlier passages of The Faerie Queene but also his shorter poems. Like Chaucer, Spenser also deployed symbolic valences in connection with his own identity as a poet. Spenser's memories of Sir Thopas and Melibee provide background and motivation for the relation of his poetic identity to the other major locus of Chaucerian self-depiction. But in the Prologue he expresses an illogical or ambiguous relation between one aspect of human behavior or appearance.

Keywords:   Chaucer, Sir Thopas, Melibee, poet, symbolic pattern, Spenser, Proems, poetry, The Faerie Queene

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