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In this important study of Spenser and nationhood - the first to contextualize Spenser's response to the Irish colonial situation by reference to contemporary Gaelic literature - Richard McCabe examines the poet's canon within the dual contexts of imperial aspiration and female 'regiment'. He shows how the experience of writing from Ireland, where the queen's influence repeatedly frustrated the expansionist ambitions of New English settlers, intensified Spenser's sense of alienation fromfemale sovereignty and led to the remarkable fusion of colonial and sexual anxieties evident in The Faerie Queene's pervasive images of anti-heroic emasculation. At the same time the paradoxical attempt to impose civility through violence compromised the poem's moral vision and problematized its conception of national identity. The attempt to create an English myth of origin coincided uneasily with the need to discredit its Gaelic counterpart, as formulated in such works as the Lebor Gabala Erenn, while the perceived 'degeneration' of Old English families within the Pale confounded the ethnic distinctions upon which the colonial enterprise had come to rest and challenged the validity of all nationalist 'myth'. By drawing upon a wide range of Gaelic poets, historians, and polemicists, McCabe seeks to recover the voices that the dialectical format of A View of the Present State of Ireland is designed to exclude and to demonstrate how the Irish dimension of The Faerie Queene providesa dark, but aesthetically enhancing subtext to the poetics of national celebration.