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Melville's Use of Spenser


Carole Moses

Melville used Spenser throughout his life, from the second «Fragment From a Writing Desk» to Clarel. His fascination with the Renaissance poet is revealed by his annotations of Spenser, which show an interest in what he seems to see as a dualistic vision, a vision that corresponds to his comments on Hawthorne and Spenser in «Hawthorne and His Mosses.» Occasionally, Melville will hold up Spenser's ideal world as one which is illusory, but often he also alludes to Spenser's darker vision, which many of Melville's own characters misunderstand. Melville uses Spenser less in his later works, however, as if finally the bright overlay in Spenser makes him an insufficient vehicle for Melville's own beliefs.
Contents: Melville's use of Spenser from his earliest works to Clarel - Including Typee, Moby-Dick, Pierre - The short fiction - And The Confidence-Man.