Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2006

Abstract

"When considered in the context of Elizabeth's effort to silence all discussion of incest, Edmund Spenser's courtly epic aiming to cultivate favor with the monarch looks like a disastrous miscalculation, for incest appears throughout The Faerie Queene. Indeed, incest sits at the center (both literally and figuratively) of the Book of Chastity, the very book wherein Spenser encourages Elizabeth 'in mirrours more then one her selfe to see.' In the present essay, I investigate the apparently illogical and impolitic prominence afforded to incest in book three of The Faerie Queene, ultimately arguing that the imperialist logic underpinning the epic is linked to an intense fear of miscegenation that, in turn, privileges endogamous relations as a way of warding off foreign invasion and contamination. For Spenser, incest becomes a positive practice, one that ensures national and individual purity."

Comments

This article was originally published in ELH, volume 73, in 2006.

Peer Reviewed

1

Copyright

Johns Hopkins University

 
 

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