Refashioning "knights and Ladies Gentle Deeds": The Intertextuality of Spenser's Faerie Queene and Malory's Morte Darthur
Refashioning "Knights and Ladies Gentle Deeds" seeks to offer a more determinate sense than traditional source study of just how much Spenser's Faerie Queene owed to Malory's Morte Darthur. Once widespread, the assumption of Spenser's debt to Malory came under enough heavy fire in the first half of this century to render it shunned. Until now, the only book-length study on the topic was Prof. Marie Walther's nineteenth-century German inaugural dissertation, Malory's Einfluss auf Spenser's Faerie Queene, which has never been translated into English. Though the question has received renewed interest in several recent essays by A. Kent Hieatt, the disproportionately brief entry on Malory in the Spenser Encyclopedia demonstrates how much is yet to be learned about the relationship between these two dominant works of adjacent centuries.
While not neglecting the question of direct borrowings, author Paul Rovang applies a theory of intertextuality to probe how the poet responded to the chivalric romance themes, conventions, materials, and structures which he encountered in the Morte Darthur. Both works are treated not as monoliths, but as links in a network of texts and other cultural phenomena relating to chivalry. In this way, a fuller sense is given not only of how vitally connected the two works are, but of how Spenser "refashioned" the transmitted ideals and symbols of Arthurian knighthood for his own age.
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