The neglect of Alonso de Ercilla y Zuñiga's La Araucana, the great Spanish epic of Philip II's (incomplete) conquest of Chile, in English translation history and in literary criticism is one of the great mysteries—and losses—of insular literary history. For that reason alone, Cyrus Moore's comparative study of Ercilla and Edmund Spenser's epic-romances is greatly to be welcomed. Both poems are fascinating precisely because their respective authors were themselves participants in the inglorious campaigns of conquest which they sought to translate into epic. Ercilla, as poet-conquistador, switched back and forth between pen- and swordsmanship, “la pluma ora en la mano, ora la lanza” (20.24.8); Spenser, that other penman of conquest, alternated between sending Elizabeth I dispatches from massacres in Ireland and cantos from Faerie lond. Rarely have poetics and politics marched together in such electrifying and disruptive lockstep.

Moore's Preface seems so attuned to the political resonance of both...

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