“Deepe written in my heart”: Edmund Spenser’s application of grammar school commonplace book practice in The Faerie Queene

Enjo, Yuri (2021) “Deepe written in my heart”: Edmund Spenser’s application of grammar school commonplace book practice in The Faerie Queene. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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This thesis analyses Edmund Spenser’s proverbial expressions in The Faerie Queene in the context of commonplace book practice in early modern grammar school education, which has not been discussed sufficiently in Spenserian studies. In Chapter 1, Books I and II of The Faerie Queene are discussed. Spenser’s characters tend to summarise other characters’ behaviours by commonplaces. For example, Prince Arthur’s words, “This daies ensample hath this lesson deare / Deepe written in my heart with yron pen, / That blisse mey not abide in state of mortall
men.” (I.viii.44.7-9) describe the process of commonplacing and let readers know how they should extract the commonplace from Arthur’s example. In Book II, Spenser shows that Guyon’s act of commonplacing is linked with his virtuous status. Chapter 2 examines Books III and IV. In Book III, Venus as a teacher of love can be contrasted to Busirane as a dreadful teacher who uses corporeal punishment. Also, the enigmatic phrases in the house of Busirane, “Be bolde, be bolde”, but “Be not too bolde” (III.xi.54) are extracted from Metamorphoses, which interrelates with the situations of Adonis and Britomart. In Book IV, the rhetorical use of commonplaces by evil characters and Florimel is discussed. Chapter 3 discusses Books V to VII. In Book V, Spenser’s commonplaces are used in legal and political contexts. In Books VI and VII, Spenser’s discourse returns to being didactic, and this atmosphere is created by Spenser’s use of clustered commonplaces. Finally, Chapter 4 explores quotations from The Faerie Queene in English printed commonplace books, which modify Spenser’s words to make them sound proverbial. This thesis contributes to showing how Spenser’s proverbial expressions were influenced by the humanist idea of commonplace book practice and how Spenser’s characters renovate the use of commonplaces in The Faerie Queene.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Arts and Humanities > English
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature > PR1803 Anglo-Norman period. Early English. Middle English
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 24 Feb 2022 13:44
Last Modified: 16 Mar 2022 15:47
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/104565

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