I've enjoyed my Kindle edition of Book 1 of Spenser's "The Faerie Queen". This download included a helpful historical introduction of the 16th century, a short biography of Spenser including his influence, and a explanation of Spenser's poetic technique. I appreciated the explanation of "Allegory" and Spenserian Stanza. The Table of contents can be accessed by going to the cover page and then paging forward. Throughout the text the reader will encounter "question marks" which when navigated to with the 5 way controller and entered will give helpful explanations of many of the archaic words and allusions that Spenser uses. Introductions to the Cantos can be accessed by paging backwards from the note's page.
This poem is written in old English with many archaic words and expressions. Though hard reading at times I've come to enjoy the old English style and diction. I especially liked Canto 9 (The Cave of Despair) where the Holy Redcross Knight is tempted to near suicide from the logic and eloquence of the personification of Despair . I also enjoyed Canto 4 describing the "House of Pride" and the personification of the 7 deadly sins such as "Gluttony": "And eke with fatnesse swollen were his eyne, And like a Crane his necke was long and fine." The notes explain that a long neck helped him enjoy his food more ! This poetry has an alliterative musical quality to it. A surprise for me was that after reading such a book of noble chivalry, I understand better the parody of Don Quixote by Cervantes. Don't be put off by the thinly disguised Protestant bias and hatred of the Catholic Church. This was the 16th century red in blood from both Protestant and Catholic power struggles. I understand it as a history and enjoy it as great poetry. Oh, and the price...FREE !
I just want to piggyback onto the previous review: this Kindle book is so well edited. Almost all the difficult phrases and literary or cultural allusions are footnoted, and you get to the footnotes by clicking on the question marks which are used instead of asterisks. This leads you directly to the footnote in the back of the book.
So, for example, when Spenser says the beautiful maiden Pride is advised in the ruling of her kingdom by "strong advizement of six wisards old," the question mark after "old" leads you to footnote 107: "six wizards old, the remaining six of the Seven Deadly Sins, Wrath, Envy, Lechery, Gluttony, Avarice, and Idleness. See Chaucer's Parson's Tale for a sermon on these mortal sins, Gower's Dance of the Seven Deadly Sins, and Laugland's Piers Plowman."
Maybe you didn't need the above example - maybe you know how footnotes work already! - but navigable footnotes are so rare in Kindle editions, even when you pay five or ten dollars for something that's out of print. I just downloaded "The Golden Pot and Other Tales" of ETA Hoffman. It's a World's Classics edition and nicely footnoted, but getting to the right footnote takes so many clicks that I'm not checking them. Major drag.
I will definitely look for more Kindle editions by this publisher, Public Domain Books - whether they're $0.00 or not.
I do have to say, though, that you can't navigate from chapter to chapter using the five-way button. But that's a relatively small inconvenience.
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