Further Notes--Putting the Site Together and Links to More Spenser
Poetry and Print History
By depicting a poet-figure, Spenser provides a way to make sense of his own writing of The Faerie Queene, and suggests that storytelling is another way to bind characters within symbols and scenes.
His revision of the ending of Book Three then becomes a kind of un-binding, swiftly following Busyrane's dramatic un-binding of Amoret, which the wizard performs by undoing his own spells. Although it does not seem that Spenser wrote the scene of Busyrane's revising in order to provide a segue to his own act of revision (which he presumably did not anticipate when he wrote the original ending), the scene of the spell's undoing provides a metaphor for making sense of Spenser's revision.
Both contain acts of cancellation--in Busyrane's case, that of the spell he originally cast, and in Spenser's that of the stanzas he originally wrote. Both also lead to a kind of ambiguity regarding the full effect of the cancellation.
Spenser allows the potential power of Busyrane's spell to linger even after it has been reversed, describing the restored Amoret as "perfect hole." While the sentence suggests the full restoration of "whole," the word's aural twin, it provides the possibility of "hole" as well--that Amoret was never whole, or that her wholeness has been prevented by a spell whose power cannot be eliminated, even when it is unwritten.
The ambiguously lingering power of the spell also provides a way to make sense of two causally separate things--Spenser's poetic depiction of revision within The Faerie Queene and the publishing history that enables readers to be aware of his revision of his epic. Since the original ending of Book III was imprinted within 1590 editions, it continues to take on a lingering influence in the epic and in the history of the epic, even after the story has sealed off its possibilities and moved past it.
Links to Spenser Sites
Click here for a
complete transcription of The Faerie Queene, including a link to an HTML document
containing an annotated copy of Book Three, hosted by
Renaissance Editions, "an
online repository of works printed in English between the years 1477 and 1799."
Click here for a page on Spenser, provided by Luminarium, an online anthology of texts, biographies, and criticism on authors from the Medieval, Renaissance, and Seventeenth Century periods.