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How astonishing is the literary fecundity of England s Elizabethan Age Spenser, Sidney, Shakespeare, Marlowe, Jonson, the list can go on and on I last read The Faerie Queenethan forty five years ago in a college English class, and then only in snippets I felt that now was the time to read the poem in its entirety, and what a treat it has been.The poem consists of seven books the last being foreshortened to only two cantos of twelve cantos each Each canto contains about fifty stanz How astonishing is the literary fecundity of England s Elizabethan Age Spenser, Sidney, Shakespeare, Marlowe, Jonson, the list can go on and on I last read The Faerie Queenethan forty five years ago in a college English class, and then only in snippets I felt that now was the time to read the poem in its entirety, and what a treat it has been.The poem consists of seven books the last being foreshortened to only two cantos of twelve cantos each Each canto contains about fifty stanzas, the total work running tothan 400 pages Each stanza is constructed as, appropriately named, a Spenserian Stanza with the nine line rhyme scheme ababbcbcc, the first eight lines being in iambic pentameter and the final in iambic hexameter Within this scheme is astonishingly great variety, and I was amazed that Spenser could sustain a poem of this length without the form becoming restricting and tedious His frequent use of enjambment serves to avoid a repetitive sing song quality to which the work might otherwise have been prone, and part of the freshness and inventiveness is also provided by his extensive use of alliteration Let me share just the last three lines of one stanza as an illustration of his alliteration All flesh is frayle, and full of ficklenesse,Subject to fortunes chance, still chaunging new What haps to day to me, to morrow may to you As is apparent, Spenser uses archaic language throughout He owes a great debt to Chaucer in many ways, and his use of archaic language and spelling suggests Chaucer s Middle English I found it charming, and one quickly and easily becomes accustomed to it.The work was written as homage to Elizabeth I and describes the adventures of various knights each representing a chivalric virtue Holinesse, Temperaunce, Chastitie, Courtesie, etc The basic conceit would seem to derive from Medieval morality plays, and one is also reminded of Bunyan s Pilgrim s Progress again, however, the virtues praised aredistinctly chivalric than Christian , but Faerie Queene is to my mind farcharming and less preachy than the latter Arthur plays a role as well, but the premise seems to be that these adventures predate his golden age There are innumerable captivating and memorable characters and endless delightful adventures.I was charmed by this work It was simply one that I would have regretted having lived a lifetime without having read in its entirety Highly recommended When it comes to sheer reading pleasure, it is almost impossible to beat The Faerie Queene It has nearly everything that a reader could desire action, romance, deep philosophical and theological meaning, allegory, pitched battles on fields of honor, blood, swords, spearseverything that makes life worth living And it is all wrapped in some of the most beautiful language ever to be set down in the English tongue Spenser was a master of English, and you can sense that he wrote for the joy When it comes to sheer reading pleasure, it is almost impossible to beat The Faerie Queene It has nearly everything that a reader could desire action, romance, deep philosophical and theological meaning, allegory, pitched battles on fields of honor, blood, swords, spearseverything that makes life worth living And it is all wrapped in some of the most beautiful language ever to be set down in the English tongue Spenser was a master of English, and you can sense that he wrote for the joy and pleasure of shaping words, molding them, positioning them just so, and we, the readers, can bask in his joy More to come A Note on the TextTable of DatesFurther ReadingA Letter of the Authors Expounding His Whole Intention in the Course of this Worke Which For that it Giveth Great Light to the Reader, for the Better Vnderstanding is Hereunto AnnexedCommendatory VersesDedicatory Sonnets The Faerie Queene Textual AppendixNotesCommon Words This has been my baby for the last two years The only time I ve really, badly procrastinated for two years on something I need to get done Like the guilty, feel yucky procrastination Somehow the first two books didn t click Each canto took forever to finish, and there are twelve cantos per book, and 6 books for the whole Faerie Queene, soyou get the idea.I took it to election working I tried reading it on the computer None of the methods stuck for long, but I still had fun along the way This has been my baby for the last two years The only time I ve really, badly procrastinated for two years on something I need to get done Like the guilty, feel yucky procrastination Somehow the first two books didn t click Each canto took forever to finish, and there are twelve cantos per book, and 6 books for the whole Faerie Queene, soyou get the idea.I took it to election working I tried reading it on the computer None of the methods stuck for long, but I still had fun along the way I loved all the reactions from various people The army veteran who remembered reading The Faerie Queene in highschool The stylish older lady who rolled her eyes at the bad memories The howls of laughter from my family every time I read another lofty, unintelligible stanza about virtue s decline in the modern world The time my brother asked are you reading that to punish yourself No, actually.Two weeks ago, I was done with my writing goals for the month, I had finished my big epic novel s fourth edit, and my computer went to the shop for repairs I think, all of a sudden, I had brain space for The Faerie Queene Instead of struggling through one canto per week with twelve cantos per book, and six booksnever mind I stared whipping through six cantos a day I wanted to get it done, and I wanted to get it done before we went out of town to the Creation Museum.Friends and fellow bibliophiles, I met my goal And I am now a proud fangirl of the Edmund Spenser club.It feels elite.Basic Impressions First of all, Spenser s imagery isn t hard to get I still bungled it, though I was reading along in book 4, about a knight getting mad, because he was trying to sleep next to workers pounding away at an anvil My first impression was wondering how much of an imbecile he could be not to get up and move But when I read the names of the workers Pensiveness and Sighs , I realized it was an allegory for those dark nights when you re lying awake, and you can t shake off thoughts of grief and sorrow Everybody has nights like that Spenser explains exactly what he means it doesn t take a genius to understand it Which..is good Because I don t get the obvious Second, his characters are so vivid I did burst out laughing by about the sixth maiden in distress who claimed she was the most sorrowful maiden in all the world But in spite of that, the characters are varied and endearing.Thirdly, his Christian living and teaching are challenging and true I dog eared many pages of passages that struck me this book is so huge I would never find them just by underlining and rejoiced at the joy, vigor, and consistency with which his characters lived the Christian life.I did skip a few cantos the parade of all the sea gods didn t add to the story, and I m not interested in that kind of religious folklore Some of Acrasia s scenes in book 2, and one description of hell in book 1 were things I didn t want to read Use your discretion in skipping around as you need to The Middle English I found easy to understand as I got into it, but that may be an extra challenge for some readers Also, Spenser occasionally goes on unimportant side tangents If you persevere through that you ll love the book as a whole But side tangents in Middle English poetry areunforgivable than modern prose Favorite BookEach book had a different virtue The first book Holiness had the tightest story plot, while the second was quite rambling The first two didn t really resonate with me, but each one got better andgripping as they went along I have the most dog eared pages of things I want to remember in Book 4 Friendship and Book 5 Justice The combination of justice and chastity, and the illustrations of wise friends, foolish friends, reconciliation and visionary work brought joy to my soul.Favorite CharactersArtegall and his Tin Man, who went marching through the realm dispensing justiceTriamond and Cambell with their lady loves by their sidesthe romance of Florimell and MarinellKing Arthur s squire There were so many people to know and love It would be hard to choose a favorite knight, but Artegall Justice , Triamond Friendship and Calidore Courtesy were my favorite for the way they lived with purpose, fought as men, and protected women And the women were pretty special as well Many of them carried swords and killed evil people within their God given position of biblical womanhood If you want visionary womanhood, this book has lots of examples.Chivalry in the Faerie QueeneI don t think I ve ever read a book that embodies chivalry between men and women so well as The Faerie Queene I m a bit tired of the arguments about chivalry between the sexes in modern society The Faerie Queene didn t argue or make exceptions It just illustrated how good men should treat good women, and how good men should treat evil women Each knight faithfully dispensed his duties with bravery and chivalry for each damsel he found in distress There was nothingimportant to a knight than rescuing a lady in need, and it didn t matter if the lady was in the most compromising or embarrassing of situations I think this book gave me an appreciation like none other of the comfort and security God designs for women by giving them the love and protection of men What a precious, precious gift.Sexuality in the Faerie QueeneDealing with issues of lust, chastity, love, friendship, and temperance, The Faerie Queene has several frank discussions about sex Christian knights rescue ladies from capture, unwanted love, and attempted rape One girl is based off of Helen of Troy, and leaves her husband for an affair Acrasia, in book 2, has a bower of bliss where she lures in weak willed knights for sexual pleasure, like the adulterous woman in Proverbs The last book, especially, has several rape attempts and mentions nakedness.While this may seem frank, I didn t read it for no reason Spenser s handling of sexuality has some of the soundest thinking I ve ever read It trains your mind into truth Instead of focusing on handsome blue eyes and yes, The Faerie Queene had some rugged knights he instead solemnly hammers into readers the importance of purity, chastity, male headship, and the beauty of sexuality as God intended it He doesn t glorify sexuality or provocative behavior You won t find lengthy bedroom scenes He simply uses an appropriate level of detail for the subjects he is dealing with Spenser wants his readers to have a Christian mindset in every area of life, and he can t train readers without talking about it.As I remarked to a group of friends this morning, sometimes in creating something clean we miss creating something biblical While The Faerie Queene can make people uncomfortable, books like this with true, mature, biblical love, create a muchmature mindset and appropriate comfort level than clean books with shallow attractions.This is a full blooded, adult, mature Christian novel It doesn t shy away from any aspect of love life I wouldn t have read this at a younger age, but now I think it s beneficial and rewarding It may not be for everyone, and that s OK But I would give my daughter The Faerie Queene before I would give her a stack of modern romances.In ConclusionThere is so much I want to include in this review, and I simply can t for length s sake I can only hope that you ll give The Faerie Queene a try, and discover it to be just as rich and enjoyable as I did.This book is one of the most talented, solid Christian stories that I have ever read Middle English and all, I consider it a privilege to have finished a copy of this story I give it five stars and heartily recommend it to dominion minded readers I first really read this poem in graduate school with a teacher so superb he made Spenser, Milton, Donne, Herbert, and Marvell exciting They are still among my favorite poets Faerie Queene is Spenser s richly imaginative 16th century epic poem depicting the education spiritual growth of the Redcrosse Knight In Spenser s epic being able to distinguish between good and evil, true and false becomes imperative, but difficult in a landscape that is deceptive and illusory.Spenser s landscapes metamo I first really read this poem in graduate school with a teacher so superb he made Spenser, Milton, Donne, Herbert, and Marvell exciting They are still among my favorite poets Faerie Queene is Spenser s richly imaginative 16th century epic poem depicting the education spiritual growth of the Redcrosse Knight In Spenser s epic being able to distinguish between good and evil, true and false becomes imperative, but difficult in a landscape that is deceptive and illusory.Spenser s landscapes metamorphose to slowly reveal the truths behind the illusive exteriors For example, shortly after defeating the monster Errour, Redcrosse meets an Aged Sire whose show of devotion the knight finds completely convincing His cottage, where Redcrosse and his companions take shelter for the night, similarly appears to be a humble, innocent dwelling A little lowly hermitage it was,Downe in a dale, hard by a forest sideThere was a holy Chappell edifyde,Wherein the Hermite dewly wont to sayHis holy things each morne and eventyde I.i.34 But this is a landscape strewn with traps and snares A sinister note begins to sound in the resumed description of the hermit who could file his tongue as smooth as glass I.i.35 and scatters a frequent Ave Mary in his speech The night, ominously creepeth on them fast and when the travelers are drownd in deadly sleeps I.i.36 , the hermit s true nature emerges The hermit, revealed to us as the evil Magician, Archimago Hypocrisy , uses his dark skills to fashion a false dream for Redcrosse wherein Una appears to wantonly seduce him When Redcrosse rejects Una, Archimago creates another vision, and Redcrosse flees And so, Redcrosse s education continues within the intricate world Spenser imagines Note, April 24, 2019 I edited this just now to insert spoiler tags in a couple of places I don t think Goodreads provided that option at the time I originally wrote the review.I read this in a different edition, without notes and which preserved the Elizabethean spellings as part of my course preparation for teaching British Literature when we were home schooling our girls, and found it a challenging though not unrewarding read The quaint spellings and archaic diction and vocabulary re Note, April 24, 2019 I edited this just now to insert spoiler tags in a couple of places I don t think Goodreads provided that option at the time I originally wrote the review.I read this in a different edition, without notes and which preserved the Elizabethean spellings as part of my course preparation for teaching British Literature when we were home schooling our girls, and found it a challenging though not unrewarding read The quaint spellings and archaic diction and vocabulary require slow and careful reading to mentally translate Fully enjoying the work as Spenser originally intended is difficult if not impossible , first because it s only half finished he completed only six of the projected dozen books that make up the whole, which plays havoc with developing a completed storyline Second, the narrative the poet relates isn t simply an epic story it s intended as an allegory his model was the earlier Italian epic Orlando Furioso by Ariosto, which English interpreters of that day misread as an allegory The various questing knights, for instance, represent assorted cardinal virtues the title character is easily recognized as a stand in for Elizabeth I, and so forth for instance, the Goodreads description above suggests that thequeen, Radigund, view spoiler who winds up decapitated hide spoiler , represents Mary Queen of Scots Full blown allegory usually works well only if the various symbolizations are easily understood, or explained that wasn t the case for me, so that aspect was largely over my head.Despite those defects, though, considered as stories in their own right many of the various episodes here prove to be quite fascinating once you decipher the languageThe setting is Arthurian England, but Spenser treats it as a full blown fantasy world, where high medieval knights co exist with figures from classical mythology, and the human world shares a much crossed border with Faerie Consequently, it s a fountain head of the Arthurian fantasy subgenre, and a treasure trove which later genre writers undoubtedly used as a grab bag of fantasy motifs For me, one of the best parts was the depiction of Sir Artegall s love interest, Britomartis, a lady knight whose own lethal combat skills make her perhaps literature s first action heroine she rescues him, rather than the other way around, when he gets himself into trouble Radigund is no slouch at fighting either and while Spenser views her as villainess rather than heroine, that s undoubtedly not the way she views herself Of course, Spenser had a long way to go in his gender attitudes the approving description of Britomartis view spoiler returning the defeated s to men s subjection and repealing the liberty of women hide spoiler had me rolling my eyes big time But her character nevertheless is somewhat subversive of the ideas of that day about gender roles and both male and female readers certainly must have picked that up Some place Ariosto above Dante because he tempers his ridiculously erratic romanticism with remarkable satire, joie de vivre, and a gently sloping concession to an ending While both Ariosto s and Spenser s works are long winded, Spenser never overcomes the need for vindication which gradually grew out of this work This desperation precluded the light heartedness that buoyed Ariosto s lengthy tale.Theone reads The Faerie Queene, theone begins to respect Liz s desire to keep this man Some place Ariosto above Dante because he tempers his ridiculously erratic romanticism with remarkable satire, joie de vivre, and a gently sloping concession to an ending While both Ariosto s and Spenser s works are long winded, Spenser never overcomes the need for vindication which gradually grew out of this work This desperation precluded the light heartedness that buoyed Ariosto s lengthy tale.Theone reads The Faerie Queene, theone begins to respect Liz s desire to keep this man at kingdom s length like so many naively obsessed stalkers of this latter age, Spenser never develops the external analysis necessary either for receiving signals nor finding wit.He has certainly learned well his lessons from Milton, Homer, Dante, Ariosto, and the Mantuan Swan, but while he is a good student, he could never stand amongst his teachers The abruptly unfinished Aeneid is far superior to Spenser s self obsessed dike fingering.He becomes so convinced of the necessity of his own brilliance that he cannot stop until it is proven He refused to accept that this redemption might not come at all Perhaps he hoped, like Virgil, to underscore the injustice of his political mistreatment with a great work, but unfortunately could not muster the strength to die upon its proper completion.Each meandering addendum bears its certain character and excitement Spenser is not without poetry, allusion, and the other necessary tools While Virgil s exile may have helped inspire his works, Spenser s exile became the central and driving theme This book that simply wouldn t end is an apt enough metaphor for the unyielding injustice he labored under to create it Book 1 is among the most epic things ever written in the English language, or perhaps any language Books 2, 3, and 4, while good, aren t nearly as memorable that s probably an uncultured opinion, but so be it One day I ll return and finish Books 5 and 6, but for now, I m moving on to Moby Dick. (READ DOWNLOAD) Ù The Faerie Queene ⚣ This tale opens with the knight, Redcrosse, undertaking a quest in aid of his beloved, Una In order to succeed, and be united with Una, Redcrosse must overcome his own human failings as well as the evil tricks of the magician Archimago Update I finally finished the whole book and most especially loved the Book 7 fragment Diana Cynthia, the moon Right up my alley and so beautifully written A lifelong desire fulfilled Now I am starting to enjoy and understand the language much quicker This section especially reminded me of Monty Python with the cutting off of arms and other flesh wounds This review is for Book 5 but the edition changed here midstream.