Blatant Beast


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Blatant Beast

monster with 100 tongues; calumnious voice of world. [Br. Lit.: Faerie Queene]
See: Slander
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Spenser begins canto vi with the Hermit prescribing self-containment as a remedy for the wounds inflicted by the Blatant Beast. John Bernard calls this remedy "too vague to be useful," but, as we shall see, the Hermit introduces issues that will come to define many of the meta-literary sequences that follow.22 In this episode, which concludes with the first description of Mirabella, Spenser initially stresses that Serena and Timias's bodily wounds are merely signs and symptoms of the inward damage that the Blatant Beast and "infamy" have wrought upon them (vi.1.3).
This omission suggests that the assault of the Blatant Beast has compromised Timias's very identity.
The Hermit stressed the importance of individual willpower in curing the wounds of the Blatant Beast, but Mirabella perverts these qualities into a radical narcissism.
More immediately, Melibee's contented slumber is juxtaposed with Timias and Serena's insomnia after their encounters with the Blatant Beast. The shepherds' untroubled sleep and admirable eating practices suggest more broadly their proper relationship to the external world.
Moreover, Coridon perpetuates a violence against himself akin to the rituals of the savage nation and to the corrosive bites of the Blatant Beast. Coridon is not simply consumed by desire but literally consumes himself, and this passionate self-cannibalism perverts the pastoral associations between contentment and nourishment that inform the interaction between Melibee and Calidore.
Ultimately, these brigands both emulate the doglike Blatant Beast and externalize Calidore's Petrarchism, which ravishes the shepherds, distances him from Pastorella, and threatens the very fabric of pastoral poetry.
Calidore's encounter with the Blatant Beast in an isolated monastery "reiterates his earlier withdrawal into the pastoral world," as Joshua Phillips notes, such that the completion of his epic task recalls the allegory of literary modes in the preceding cantos.
His attempt at reconciliation--his intervention in Renaissance literature to contain the more hazardous features of Petrarchism--meets with some success, as he represents in Calidore's victory over the brigands, his short-lived reunion with Pastorella, and his temporary triumph over the Blatant Beast. If history has the potential to repeat itself and Spenser's epic may yet be subject to "venemous despite" and "a mighty Peres displeasure" like the authors "former writs" (41.1-6), then it is also possible that the Beast can be bested once more.