Chapter

“Pricking on the plaine”: Spenser's Intertextual Beginnings and Endings

Judith H. Anderson

in Reading the Allegorical Intertext

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print May 2008 | ISBN: 9780823228478
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823241125 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5422/fordham/9780823228478.003.0004
“Pricking on the plaine”: Spenser's Intertextual Beginnings and Endings

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The opening line “A Gentle Knight was pricking on the plaine” in the first canto of the first Book of The Faerie Queene introduces the Chaucerian intertext and does so problematically. The problem in Spenser's first line centers on the word “pricking,” which has the perfectly straightforward and innocent meaning, to spurge or urge a horse. The word “pricking” is already conspicuous as the first verbal action in the opening line of Spenser's story, which occurs in a context designed to render its meaning specifically problematical. It causes some logical distraction and besides being narratively incongruous, the word “pricking” has a resonance and politely a doubleness of signification that some words simply lack. The greatest numbers of forms of the word “prick” occur in Spenser's second and fourth Books, and it is reasonable that they should do so.

Keywords: The Faerie Queene; Spenser; pricking; prick; Chaucerian intertext

Chapter.  3016 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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