Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene

Andrew King (University College Cork)
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The Faerie Queene

was published in two instalments during Spenser’s lifetime: Books I to III in 1590 and Books IV to VI (with a slightly revised version of I-III) in 1596. In a letter to Sir Walter Raleigh printed with the first edition of 1590, Spenser indicates his intention to write at least twelve Books overall, possibly extending to twenty-four.

The Faerie Queene

, already a massive poem, could have been four times longer. Evidence that Spenser was still working on the poem after 1596 is provided in a fragment, dubbed

The Mutabilitie Cantos

, published in 1609, ten years after Spenser’s death. For all of their narrative and thematic completeness, along with the sense of summary that they provide for the entire work,

The Mutabilitie Cantos

appear to be part of a projected Book VII.

1978 words

Citation: King, Andrew. "The Faerie Queene". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 29 April 2005 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=921, accessed 30 May 2024.]

921 The Faerie Queene 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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