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Allegorical Quests from Deguileville to Spenser


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"Offers the first full study of the allegorical knightly quest tradition from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. Richly satisfying, as impressive in the detail of its scholarship as in the elegance of its critical formulations. It seamlessly moves between different literary traditions and across conventional period boundaries. In Dr Nievergelt's treatment of this theme, the successive retellings of the tale of the knight's quest come to stand as an emblem of shifting values and norms, both religious and worldly; and of our repeated failures to realise those ideals." Dr Alex Davis, Department of English, University of St Andrews.

The literary motif of the "allegorical knightly quest" appears repeatedly in the literature of the late medieval/early modern period, notably in Spenser, but has hitherto been little examined. Here, in his examination of a number of sixteenth-century English allegorical-chivalric quest narratives, focussing on Spenser's Faerie Queene but including important, lesser-known works such as Stephen Bateman's Travayled Pylgrime and William Goodyear's Voyage of the Wandering Knight, the author argues that the tradition begins with the French writer Guillaume de Deguileville. His seminal Pèlerinage vie humaine was composed c.1331-1355; it was widely adapted, translated, rewritten and printed over the next centuries. Dr Nievergelt goes on to demonstrate how this essentially "medieval" literary form could be adapted to articulate reflections on changing patterns of identity, society and religion during the early modern period; and how it becomes a vehicle of self-exploration and self-fashioning during a period of profound cultural crisis.

Dr Marco Nievergelt is Lecturer (Maître Assnt) and SNF (Swiss National Science Foundation) Research Fellow in the English Department at the Université de Lausanne


[A] welcome study. MEDIEVAL REVIEW

Sheds welcome light on both rarely read texts and on less familiar backgrounds for well-known ones. REVIEW OF ENGLISH STUDIES

Offers an impressive study of the evolution of the allegorical quest motif as it appears in a selection of mediaeval and early modern literary works. ENGLISH


First Published: 18 Oct 2012
13 Digit ISBN: 9781843843283
Pages: 256
Size: 23.4 x 15.6
Binding: Hardback
Imprint: D.S.Brewer

Details updated on 05 Oct 2015


  • 1  Introduction
  • 2  Homo Viator: Guillaume de Deguileville's
  • 3  Chivalric Transformations in Fifteenth-Century France
  • 4  Stephen Hawes: the Secularised Quest
  • 5  Stephen Bateman: the Apocalytic Quest
  • 6  William Goodyear: Everyman's Quest
  • 7  Lewes Lewkenor: the Humanist Quest
  • 8  Edmund Spenser: the Poetic Quest
  • 9  Coda: Reflections on the Unfinished Quest
  • 10  Bibliography

Allegory, Space and the Material World in the Writings of Edmund Spenser

Allegory, Space and the Material World in the Writings of Edmund Spenser

Chivalry and Romance in the English Renaissance

Chivalry and Romance in the English Renaissance

Authorship and First-Person Allegory in Late Medieval France and England