By Susanne Scholz (auth.)
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Additional info for Body Narratives: Writing the Nation and Fashioning the Subject in Early Modern England
Placed between her two sisters, one of whom represents inadequacy and the other excess, Medina morally and spatially represents the middle position. The applicability of this harmony-principle to the body politic is suggested by Guyon’s comparison of Medina and his Queen: This thy demaund, O Lady, doth reuiue Fresh memory in me of that great Queene, Great and most glorious virgin Queene aliue, That with her soueraigne powre, and scepter shene All Faery lond does peaceably sustene. In widest Ocean she her throne does reare, That ouer all the earth it may be seene; As morning Sunne her beames dispredden cleare, And in her face faire peace, and mercy doth appeare.
Those who refuse to become ‘human’ again, however, are addressed with the words ‘See the mind of beastly man,/ That hath so soone forgot the excellence / Of his creation’ (87). In this final comment, Guyon’s act of destruction is represented as laying the foundations of a civilization that will re-establish the godlikeness of the first creation. 2 Imagined Individuals: A Body of One’s Own In contrast to post-Cartesian notions of selfhood, the early modern subject was effected by discourses and power structures beyond itself.
The passions and senses that must be controlled, that is, grief, vainglory, wrath, greed, and concupiscence, instances of what later came to be envisaged as ‘inner nature’, are in Spenser’s narrative of continence frequently displaced outside the body and depicted as hostile forces besetting the quester’s body. 22 The Faerie Queene’s quest for temperance commences with an image of original sin. The infant Ruddymane, whose parents have died as a result of their concupiscence, has steeped his hands in their blood, which cannot be washed off.