Thomas Warton's criticism of The Faerie Queene



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Neo-classical criticism and Romantic criticism of The Faerie Queene varied widely in the points on which Spenser was appreciated and censured. The Neo-classicists generally found Spenser's choice of stanza pattern and his versification less than perfect. Moreover, they tended to find fault with Spenser's sometimes archaic diction and his practice of coining words. In general, it was felt that Spenser's chief error lay in following the example of Ariosto which led Spenser not only to chuck the rules of the classic epic but also to allow his imagination to come into play excessively. One means of rationalizing the fanciful or imaginative features not in keeping with Neo-classical poetic ideas was to stress the allegorical significance of the "unreal" aspects of The Faerie Queene; however, Neo-classical critical practice often required the critic to point out certain "flaws" in Spenser's allegorical practice as well. [...]