The Faerie Queene

Early Glimpses of Primitivism as Seen in Spensers' The Fairie Queene

The Romantic era saw a wave of primitivism sweep through its literature and art. The dissatisfaction of the present led to a glorification of the past, and it was explored and philosophized by looking at the 'noble savage'. However, a branch of primitivism arose which looked, rather, at England's own past for its ideal situation. These were considered new concepts, but perhaps there was a harbinger to this mode of thought. Indeed, glimpsing the past, or revisiting the past in an ideal manner began much before the Romantic era: an excellent example of this is seen in Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene. Spenser's master work was meant as a Christian allegory, with little political scraps thrown in to the whole, but Spenser chose the medieval world of King Arthur to set his tale, and he chose an archaic language by which to fashion his tale. This is a form of primitivism.

Primitivism as a movement began in the Romantic era, in the eighteenth century. As England saw more and more report of their colonies which harbored savage races of people, the fascination grew. The natives of North America, for instance, were seen as being proud, noble, tied to no one and nothing, and living a pure and innocent life off the...

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