The role of the human body as a poetic and ideological construct in the 1590 Faerie Queene provides the point of departure for David Lee Miller's richly detailed treatment of Spenser's allegory. In this major contribution to the study of Renaissance literature and ideology, Miller finds the poem organized by a fantasy of bodily wholeness that, like the marriage of Arthur and Gloriana, is both anticipated and deferred in the text.
Originally published in 1988.
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"David Lee Miller's thesis in The Poem's Two Bodies is simple, far-reaching, and important; concentrating upon the problematical 1590 edition of The Faerie Queene, Miller argues that `the aesthetic body of Spenser's poem mirrors the socio-political body of Tudor ideology.' From this premise, Miller proceeds to a close and systematic reading of The Faerie Queene; he carefully explores the ways in which Spenser's poetics encounter Elizabethan politics; and he demonstrates the staggering difficulty of Spenser's own situation as an imperial poet.... The Poem's Two Bodies is a valuable essay in politics and the English language, diligently executed and repeatedly satisfying in its conclusions. It deserves, and will doubtless command, close and prolonged attention."--Bruce Thomas Boehrer, Sixteenth Century Journal
"In a major revisionary study, David Lee Miller now attempts to outline a Spenserian poetics that will let us read the poem with a fuller understanding of the dimensions of [its apparent discontinuities and discordances].... Miller builds upon recent critics who have seen the poem as a world of glass and a test of reading, and provides a refined and more economical terminology. He brings us closer, I think, to understanding what Puttenham may have meant when he called allegory a 'false semblant or dissimulation.'"--Donald Cheney, University of Massachusetts, Amherst