Saturday, 28 October 2017

The Faerie Queene Book One Canto Five

Redcrosse and Sansfoy fight. If I'm interpreting this right, Redcrosse is about to lose when Duessa calls out in encouragement to Sansfoy, but Redcrosse thinks her words are meant for him, rallies and wins, driving Sansfoy to his knees.

Then WIZARD TRICKS happen. Duessa hides the body of Sansfoy with a magic cloud, she goes to comfort Redcrosse and take him to be healed.

But its a Tim Burton episode this Canto, because as soon as Redcrosse is out Duessa, like a "cruell craftie crocodille" sneaks away to the body of Sansfoy, then moves at increadible speed to " the eastern coast of Heavan' where she meets Dame Night.

Actual Night, literalised, with her 'Yron Chariot' and black steeds champing at rusty bits. The majority of the Canto is Duessa persuading Night to try to save Sansfoy. Then a marvellous description of Hades (with lots of mispronunciation by me).

Night takes Sansfoy to AEsculapius, a Greek frankenstein guy about whom I knew nothing till I read this. Unlike our Frankenstein, he never even wanted to challenge divine power, he was just a Doctor so amazing that when a hero is falsely accused and torn to buts due to standard Olympian fuckery, and the despairing father appeals for aid, AEsculapius is capable of actually stitching the guy back together and making him live again.

Jove is so irritated/freaked out by this that he sends the Doctor directly to Hades with a thunderbolt where he currently lives chained in a cave, trying to heal the ever-burning fire of his thunderbolt wound.

Night asks him to heal Sansfoy, the Doctor doesn't want to piss off Jove again but as Night points out, he is already as dammed as dammed can get, so he goes ahead.

Then we come back to the world and find Redcrosse has left the house of Pride. His un-named Dwarf has noticed the giant dungeon full of doomed (but great) men from history (there are damned proud historical women as well, but two of the three named are damned for having the temerity to commit suicide, so make what you will of that) and the giant piles of dead people. Thusly confirming that Knights can never notice anything and have to be informed of deception by their followers.

This all happens 'off-screen', we finish on Redcrosse leaving the "dreadful spectacle of that sad house of Pride."

Now no doubt all of this has complex renaissance allegorical religious meanings but I can only talk about it  on a storytelling level, and again, it reminds me a lot of Genre writing/ Spenser really likes taking us on these supernatural journeys and tends to fall in love with his proto-gothic bad-guy characters. Like the loving description of Archimago making a pervy sex-golem of mist and literally summoning dreams from Morpheus, here we find out, in detail, how Night herself can cause a man to be healed from death.

The 'dark' characters have their own world and relationships, and when they are 'on screen' they get as much attention and depth as the main characters.

And the moral complexity of getting a 'proud Panyim' healed by a dammed super-Doctor who's only sin was that he was _too good_ at healing people, well that's very interesting. Again we get, at every step, these alter-stories and mirrors to Chivalry and the Chivalric ethos.

Both Neil Gaiaman and Mary Shelly need to call thier lawyers because clearly Spenser has been ripping them both off.

Sorry for the poor reading today, think I made more mistakes than usual.

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