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date: 20 October 2018

Abstract and Keywords

This article analyzes Spenser's Two Cantos of Mutabilitie. In 1609, a decade after the poet's death, the six completed books of The Faerie Queene were published in a large, folio edition edited, perhaps, by Spenser's scholarly friend at Cambridge, Gabriel Harvey. To these six books were added two more cantos and a two-stanza fragment, under the following head-note: ‘Two Cantos of Mutabilitie, which, both for Forme and Matter, appeare to be parcel of some following Booke of The Faerie Queene, under the Legend of Constancie. Never before imprinted’. The Mutabilitie Cantos were likely written in the twenty months between Spenser's return to Ireland, early in 1597, and the end of September 1598. The metaphysical issues of identity, continuance, and change are raised in the Mutabilitie Cantos from a naturalistic point of view — Nature is the judge of them — with no reference, until the final stanza, to Christian hope or divine revelation.

Keywords: cantos, metaphysics, identity, continuance, change, nature

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