Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Ultimate Catfish - The Faerie Queene Book 1 Canto 8

An Action Canto!

Spensers verse form really comes alive when applied to action scenes, usually I take a break every 10 verses or so but in this case I read through the entirety of the fight with the Giant and Hydra in almost one go.


  • Arthur fights the giant, cuts off his arm.
  • The Hydra gets involved.
  • The Squire holds off the Hydra.
  • Arthur is driven to the ground and the Squire poisoned by Duessa. It looks like the good guys are about to lose.
  • The Giants blow tears away the veil before Arthurs magic shield.
  • This is so bright it blinds and terrifies both Orgoglio and the Hydra.
  • Arthur murders everyone and the Squire grabs Duessa.
  • They investigate the Giants castle, meet his foster-father Ignario, who knows nothing.
  • The castle is very sweet but unfortunately covered with the blood of innocent Christians and also has a death alter where the souls of Martyrs wail continually.
  • Arthur finds Redcrosse and tears off the door to his iron prison with pure manliness.
  • Recrosse is in a very bad state.
  • Una advises them not to kill Duessa but to strip her of her royal robe, this done she is revealed as the ultimate Catfish and flees.
  • Our heroes decide to stay in Orgoglios castle, despite it being carpeted in innocent blood and having a death altar in it.

Popular verse elements - more brightness metaphors, this time Arthurs shield directly saving the day. If we get a Canto without a brightness metaphor I will eat my eye.

Also more 'subtil engines' this time undermining castles as part of another metaphor. Spenser must have seen some kind of 'subtil engine' at some point, as well as gunpowder, technology made a big impression on him I think,

Trying to make Catholicism look awful but accidentally making it look amazing.
Not certain of the Artist yet.

So there are a few polarities that keep coming up;

One is Spensers dual skill/presentation. One one hand he is a classical telenovella/action movie director, the motherfucker can hit story beats, move people around, manage scenes, a lot of classic but often unregarded talents.

He's also doing all this while absolutely everything in the story is a highly elaborate and specific analogy for various kinds of spiritual and religious whatever.

For the modern reader this presents a kind of split perspective, in which we are simultaneously reading a thrilling genre story while also going to the back to decode his references and work out his religious and political commentary.

But his telenovella aspect is so.. not cheesy, but so common as my mum would put it. Its a crowdpleaser, its Spielbergian, Dickensian. So my cultural programming keeps telling me to look for the trick or the irony, that Spenser isn't really doing both those things at once, that one is actually a kind of cheat so he can do the other one.

But no, I think he is actually doing both for real.

By Walter Crane I think
The second one is the loops of his metaphor and references. Our boy loves him some Greek references, and also talking about the weather and weather effects, all very standard poet stuff. But we see, especially in this Canto, the way he speaks keeps looping back into near-common speech and common references, the high tone modulates into the low, then back again, the complex into the simple and direct.

(There's another with alliteration. Spenser is doing that a lot, I feel like he is alliterating for play, allowing the rhyme and metre to take the heavy load as the 'solid' sound structure and 'painting' with alliteration, but I suppose I will have more time to think of that as we go on.)

As a Podcast

Searching for this; http://pca.st/c44P should find it on most podcasting apps.

No comments:

Post a Comment