This chapter, which develops a wide-ranging account of how school-trained readers thought, using Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene as an example, argues that the The Faerie Queen, along with Euphues and His England and the old Arcadia, make a great show of teaching. They are elaborated out of the materials of a didactic poetics; they could not be what they are, could not move on from page to page, without the assumption that poetry instructs and without the host of conventions that give that assumption substance. However, they do not believe in the project, or are fantastically sensitive to its costs. The result is a group of fictions that by different means sacrifice themselves to their own pedagogical misgivings. It is hard to say in each case whether that sacrifice is strategic and polemical, or whether it is a kind of bitter, private irony, without particular hope for an audience.
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