Spenserian Overlay and the English Translation of the Italian Romance Epic

Document Type


Publication Date



"The fact is that all writers create their precursors” (Borges). In his Englished Romance Epic The Faerie Queene (1590/96), Edmund Spenser transmutes his generic precursors: Ariosto’s Orlando furioso (1516/1532) and Tasso’s Gerusalemme liberata (1581). Spenser so effectivelyacculturates the Italian Romance Epic for his Elizabethan audience that The Faerie Queen becomes a form of intermediary translation, surrogate source text, or interpretive overlay for contemporary translators like Sir John Harington (1591) and Edward Fairfax (1600). These translators read Ariosto and Tasso through The Faerie Queene: characters, episodes, and individual translation choices bear a Spenserian inflection. Particular attention will be given to the Bowers of Alcina, Armida, and Acrasia, as they morph from Ariosto and Tasso through Spenser the literary grafter. Analyzed intertextually, these Bowers are sites of metalinguistic transformation—locus amoenus as locus translatus.


Toronto, Canada

This document is currently not available here.