General Editor:
J.B. Lethbridge   
Associate Editor:
Josh Reid   

Editorial Board:
Helen Cooper, Thomas Herron,
Carol V. Kaske, James Nohrnberg,
Brian Vickers

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Maik Goth

Monsters and the poetic imagination in The Faerie Queene

Most ugly shapes and horrible aspects

Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene (1590; 1596) is an epic romance teeming with dragons, fantastic animals, giants, grotesque human-animal composites, monstrous humans and other creatures. This monograph is the first ever book-length account of Spenser's monsters and their relation to the poetic imagination in the Renaissance. It provides readers with an extended discussion of the role monstrous beings play in Spenser's epic romance, and how they are related to the Renaissance notions of the imagination and poetic creation.

This book first offers a taxonomic inventory of the monstrous beings in The Faerie Queene, which analyses them along systematic and anatomical parameters. It then reads monsters and monstrous beings as signs interacting with the early modern discourse on the autonomous poet, who creates a secondary nature through the use of his transformative imagination and fashions monsters as ciphers that need to be interpreted by the reader.


Part I: ‘Complicated monsters head and tail’: A primer in Spenser, monsters, and teratology
1. The Faerie Queene – A poem of monsters?
2. The monstrous in the early modern period
3. Historical perspectives on the monstrous
4. How to read monsters: A survey of Spenser studies, and teratology
Part II: Reading the monster: Taxonomy
5. Taxonomic considerations
6. Monsters and monstrous beings in The Faerie Queene
7. Monstrous animals (1): dragons
8. Monstrous animals (2): four-footed beasts
9. Human-animal composites
10. Giants
11. Monstrous humans
12. Automata
13. Taxonomy reconsidered
Part III: Making monsters: The monstrous imagination and the poet’s autonomy in The Faerie Queene
14. The problem of the literary monster in the discourse of the poetic imagination
15. The monstrous and the literary heterocosm
16. In Phantastes’s chamber
17. Animating the monstrous imagination in The Faerie Queene
18. Poetic creation: Spenser as Prometheus
19. The poet’s autonomy and the use of the monstrous imagination
20. Interpreting the monstrous