PETRARCH'S MOURNING, SPENSER'S SCUDAMOUR, AND BRITOMART'S GIFT OF DEATH1 Joseph Parry As is well known, Petrarchan poetry plays a prominent role in the allegorical design of Book III's final two cantos in Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene.2 Petrarchan discourses of love race through much of Book III, but Cantos xi and xii (especially the House of Busirane) are for many readers a culmination to Spenser's critique of those discourses. Though Lauren Silberman goes so far as to define Busirane as a "Petrarchan poet," Petrarchan love is certainly not Spenser's sole critical focus in these cantos.3 Yet to the extent that Spenser does arraign this kind of literary loving, these two cantos fully expose the inadequacies and flaws of Petrarchan love in Spenser's allegory of chastity, specifically its inability to provide Spenser with the materials to build a place to which lovers could go for fulfillment and fidelity. In fact, the most pressing danger that Petrarchan love poses in Spenser's treatment of Busirane's worldwhich we already see in Scudamour as he lies immobilized before Busirane's gatesis not precisely the threat of injury or hostile confinement imposed on lovers who would be chaste. Rather, Busirane reigns over a corner of
Comparative Literature Studies – Penn State University Press
Published: May 17, 2005
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