chapter  1
Pages 21

Spenser is a known maker of allegories. If you believe, as many people appear to, that allegory is necessarily superficial, The Faerie Queene is dull in so far as it is simple, and a failure in so far as it is difficult. Coleridge, perhaps, first specified that allegory was a mode inferior to 'symbolism', and this is now commonplace. Blake's distinction between Vision and Allegory-which is 'formed by the Daughters of Memory'—was accepted, for instance, by Yeats, who blames Spenser and Bunyan for the unhappy vogue of allegory in England. A German Symbolist friend of his-probably Dauthendey, the man who hated verbs —won Yeats's approval by observing that 'Allegory said things which could be said as well, or better, in another way'.1 As such views gain ground, Spenser's fortunes wilt; and in our own day we may find a critic of distinction, Professor Yvor Winters, willing to dismiss The Faerie Queene in a few derisive words.2 From Hazlitt reading the poem in 'voluptuous indolence', we progress easily to Winters not reading it at all.