Is Spenser ever, or even frequently, ambiguous?
The idea that Spenser suffers, or benefits from, ambiguous pronoun
references can be traced (I think) to Greene's Descent from Heaven
(1963), p. 328. We saw a nice example, this March, in response to
James Broaddus' query about who holds the spear in FQ 1.2.14.
Do we think this example is typical? I ask, because I've been
reviewing my notes on Empson and (so far as I can tell) the Earl of
Ambiguity did NOT think Spenser is ambiguous at the sentence level.
Have a look, if you will, at Seven Types of Ambiguity, 3rd edn. (New
York: New Directions, 1930), pp. 207-8. If you don't have it handy --
we have two copies somewhere, but I can't find any of them right now
-- both pages are conveniently available through Google Books preview:
The implication, if I'm reading it correctly, is that we always know
what Spenser's sentences mean, even when they say the opposite. I'm
especially struck by this phrase on p. 208: "Spenser's indifference to
So who was right, Empson or Greene?
Dr. David Wilson-Okamura http://virgil.org [log in to unmask]
English Department Virgil reception, discussion, documents, &c
East Carolina University Sparsa et neglecta coegi. -- Claude Fauchet