Scholarship on Middle English romance has done little to access the textual and bibliographical continuity of this remarkable literary tradition into the sixteenth century and its impact on Elizabethan works. And to an even greater extent Spenserian scholarship has failed to investigate the significant and complex debts which The Faerie Queene owes to medieval native verse romance and Malorys Le Morte Darthur. This book accordingly offers the first comprehensive study of the impact of Middle English romance on The Faerie Queene. It employs the concept of memory, in which both Middle English romance writers and Spenser show specific interest, to build a sense of the thematic, generic, and cultural complexity of the native romance tradition. The memorial character of Middle English romance resides in its intertextuality and its frequent presentation of its narrative events as historical and consequently the basis for a favourable sense of local or even national identity.
Spensers memories of native romance involve a more troubled engagement with that tradition of providential national history as well as an endeavour to see in pre-Reformation romance a prophetic and objective authority for Protestant belief.
Andrew King is Killam Postdoctoral Fellow in English, Dalhousie University, Canada