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Religions 2017, 8(4), 55; doi:10.3390/rel8040055

Spenser’s Blatant Beast: The Thousand Tongues of Elizabethan Religious Polemic

Department of English and Modern Foreign Languages, University of Tennessee Martin, Martin, TN 38238, USA
Academic Editor: Christopher Metress
Received: 31 January 2017 / Revised: 24 March 2017 / Accepted: 28 March 2017 / Published: 4 April 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Teaching the Reformations)
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Abstract

This article addresses the final two books of the 1596 edition of Spenser’s Faerie Queene, in which there arises a formidable adversary: the Blatant Beast. This monster, whose presence dominates the end of Book Five and a substantial portion of Book Six, represents the worst excesses of caustic and satirical rhetoric as manifest in the theological and ecclesiastical pamphlet disputes that erupted after Fields and Wilcox’s 1572 Admonition to Parliament. That these disputes were about serious and far-reaching matters is undeniable; it is also undeniable that the means by which these disputes were waged, especially in notorious cases like those of Martin Marprelate, caused significant intellectual, rhetorical, and religious anxiety among combatants and observers alike. Spenser’s heavily allegorized presentation of polemic and pamphleteering in the figure of the Blatant Beast—and the travails of the Knights of Justice and of Courtesy in bringing the beast to heel—can illustrate for students the full extent of that anxiety in Reformation England, as well as articulate Spenser’s call for the timely application of “well guided speech” as the solution to these reckless disputes. View Full-Text
Keywords: polemic; allegory; satire; rhetoric polemic; allegory; satire; rhetoric
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Hill, C.A. Spenser’s Blatant Beast: The Thousand Tongues of Elizabethan Religious Polemic. Religions 2017, 8, 55.

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