Edmund Spenser’s A View of the Present State of Ireland is one of the most notorious works in the imperial archive, yet its fantasy of annihilating reform, or what might now be called “creative destruction,” schemes a highly specific kind of colonial project driven by novel kinds of economic motive. This essay considers how A View redeploys utopian literary forms in the colonial setting so as to envision unimpeded, accelerated “primitive accumulation,” that violent process of dispossession that defines the agrarian and imperial origins of capitalism. While The Faerie Queene adopts a more residual, backward-glancing form, its allegories of Spanish greed and Irish theft likewise attempt to morally differentiate emergent English methods of expropriation from competing methods of conquest and customary economies.

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