There is no author so prey to double violence against self and past as Torquato Tasso; and there is no author who feels so keenly the tortured energy released by an antiquarianism that seeks vainly to strip away layers of anachronistic misreadings from past texts. The Faerie Queene might seem at first to be written in a quite different spirit. It is a bewildering amalgam of topicality and timelessness, which seems to celebrate the power of the author to blend different periods, different writers, and different idioms into one vast composite, with little sign that such a process is difficult or dangerous. Edmund Spenser's language mingles archaism with contemporary usage, and his imaginary location, Faerie-land, is at once a distant, idealized space, and a parallel version of things going on next door. The poem's allegory ranges from the very recent history of England to an atemporal world of myth.
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