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Abridging the Antiquitee of Faery lond: New Paths Through Old Matter in The Faerie Queene*

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Abstract

Sixteenth-century history may have been recorded most spectacularly in prestigious folio chronicles, but readers had more ready access to printed books that conveyed this history in epitome. This essay focuses on how Edmund Spenser (1552?99) appropriated the rhetoric and form of such printed redactions in his rendition of fairy history found in book 2 of The Faerie Queene (1596). Through his abridged fairy chronicle, Spenser connects to a broadly defined reading public, emphasizes the deeds not only of kings but their imperial and civic deputies, and provides an alternative interpretive pathway through his poem.

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*

I wish to thank the generous and helpful editorial staff and readers at Renaissance Quarterly, my colleagues at Trinity, and my friends and advisors at Columbia — David Kastan, Jean Howard, Robert Stein, and Anne Lake Prescott in particular — who have patiently commented on the many versions of this piece.

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