Spenser's Poetic Phenomenology: Humanism and the Recovery of Place

Author's Department

English & Comparative Literature Department

Document Type

Research Article

Publication Title

Analecta Husserliana

Publication Date





The present paper defends the thesis that Spenser’s recovery of place, as enacted in The Faerie Queene, Book VI, can be linked in a direct way to his use of a poetic phenomenology which informs and clarifies his work as an epic writer. Traditional humanism is sometimes defined as an attempt to appropriate the meaning of classical art and literature in terms of “timeless” philosophical truths. Spenser’s originality as a Renaissance poet, however, has much to do with his use of literary procedures that express but also complicate his relationship to traditional humanism. While the heart of Spenser’s “Book of Courtesy” enacts a Neo-Platonic movement from the lower levels of temporal existence to an exalted vision of spiritual perfection, this same section can be read along phenomenological lines as a mysterious adventure that embraces self and other, personality and community, aesthetics and ethics, in a sequence of images that opens up a new interpretation of imaginative fulfillment.1 The burden of this paper, therefore, is largely concerned with demonstrating how this poetic sequence instates the “truth” of place in a way that is inseparable from the meaning of Spenser’s humanism.

First Page


Last Page