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The Faerie Queene Paperback – January 25, 1979

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Editorial Reviews

Review

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Two editions of Spenser are both from the same series, published by Hackett Publishing Company, which is providing inexpensive paperback volumes of The Faerie Queene, under the general editorship of Abraham Stoll. The volumes printed this year, books 1 and 5, are edited, respectively, by Carol V. Kaske and Stoll himself. A single volume combining books 3 and 4, edited by Dorothy Stephens, is forthcoming, as is book 6, edited by Andrew Hadfield. The volumes are attractively printed, with notes at the bottom of the page. Each volume includes an introduction, the Letter to Raleigh, a brief 'Life of Edmund Spenser,' textual notes, a glossary, an 'Index of Characters,' and a bibliography. Kaske's introduction to book 1 forms an accessible student guide, touching on a wide range of topics, from versification, genre, and allegory, to 'Spenser's Religious Milieu.' At the same time, there are fresh flashes of insight, no doubt derived from Kaske's long experience of teaching a complex poem. . . . Eschewing 'political and biographical allegory (p. xvi), the notes offer plenty of help to the student seeking to get behind the veil of Spenser's dark conceit, for they emphasize symbolism and historical context, especially literary context or 'sources.' Stoll's edition of book 5 of the Faerie Queene includes a judicious introduction of considerable merit. Not simply well written and learned, it partitions the information in an accessible and interesting way. Stoll is fully attuned to the recent controversies surrounding the Legend of Justice, but he does more than record them for the student reader; he manages to express sympathy for both poet and poem. Students need to hear the historical nature of Spenser's achievement for English literature, and Stoll leads nicely with this topic: book 5 is 'one of the most challenging meditations on justice in English literature' (p. ix). Stoll is as sensitive to the violence of book 5 as he is to its strangeness and beauty. Students will appreciate the short inventory of important works of criticism at the end of each section. The notes are not as full as Kaske's, but perhaps appropriately so. . . . I look forward to having access to the remaining volumes in this series. --Patrick Cheney, Studies in English Literature 1500-1900

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Teachers of Spenser will also welcome two more installments of the Hackett editions of separate books of The Faerie Queene under the general editorship of Abraham Stoll, this time on books 2 and on books 3 and 4. In my view, these are the most attractive, inexpensive, but also comprehensive editions to date, with far better (and easy to read) notes on mythology and name symbolism (matters increasingly foreign to our undergraduates) than almost all previous versions. --Catherine Gimelli Martin, Studies in English Literature 1500-1900

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The multivolume format provides varied introductions and annotations--a benefit to any student--and facilitates the general reading experience through smaller bindings. The prefatory material of individual volumes focuses on history, subjects, and ideologies pertinent to specific books. The edition is thus ideal for classroom use, especially in survey courses or for those who prefer to read several individual books rather than study the poem in its entirety. The format and language of the editorial input lend themselves to undergraduate study. These editions offer a solid analytical grounding for readers at various levels, and together compile a sound and substantial set of editorial perspectives on Spenser's most famous work. --Rachel E. Frier, Sixteenth Century Journal

</div> --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From the Publisher

Founded in 1906 by J.M. Dent, the Everyman Library has always tried to make the best books ever written available to the greatest number of people at the lowest possible price. Unique editorial features that help Everyman Paperback Classics stand out from the crowd include: a leading scholar or literary critic's introduction to the text, a biography of the author, a chronology of her or his life and times, a historical selection of criticism, and a concise plot summary. All books published since 1993 have also been completely restyled: all type has been reset, to offer a clarity and ease of reading unique among editions of the classics; a vibrant, full-color cover design now complements these great texts with beautiful contemporary works of art. But the best feature must be Everyman's uniquely low price. Each Everyman title offers these extensive materials at a price that competes with the most inexpensive editions on the market-but Everyman Paperbacks have durable binding, quality paper, and the highest editorial and scholarly standards. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 1248 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reissue edition (January 25, 1979)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140422072
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140422078
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 2.2 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #57,696 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
THE FAERIE QUEENE. By Edmund Spenser. Edited by Thomas P. Roche, Jr with the assistance of C. Patrick O'Donnell, Jr. 1247 pp. Penguin English Poets, 1978 and Reprinted.
Although everyone has heard of Edmund Spenser's amazing narrative poem, 'The Faerie Queene,' it's a pity that few seem to read it. To a superficial glance it may appear difficult, although the truth is that it's basically a fascinating story that even an intelligent child can follow with enjoyment and interest.
It appears difficult only because of Spenser's deliberately antique English. He needed such an English because he was creating a whole new dimension of enchantment, a magical world, a land of mystery and adventure teeming with ogres and giants and witches, hardy knights both brave and villainous, dwarfs, magicians, dragons, and maidens in distress, wicked enchanters, gods, demons, forests, caves, and castles, amorous encounters, fierce battles, etc., etc.
To evoke an atmosphere appropriate to such a magical world, a world seemingly distant in both time and place from ours, Spenser created his own special brand of English. Basically his language is standard Sixteenth Century English, but with antique spellings and a few medievalisms thrown in, along with a number of new words that Spenser coined himself. The opening lines of the poem are typical :
"A Gentle Knight was pricking on the plain, / Y cladd in mightie armes and siluer shielde, / Wherein old dints of deepe wounds did remain, / The cruell markes of many a bloudy fielde...." (page 41).
If, instead of reading with the eye, we read with the ear or aloud, the strange spellings resolve themselves into perfectly familiar words such as clad (clothed), mighty, arms, silver, shield, deep, cruel, marks, bloody, field.
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Format: Paperback
This is a review of The Faerie Queene, Penguin Classics edition, edited by Thomas Roche (ISBN 0140422072).

The Faerie Queene itself will not be to everyone's taste. It is probably easier than Milton, definitely harder than Malory, and parts of it are very accessible and parts of it are not very accessible at all. However, the language, which most will perceive as the primary barrier to Spenser's work, is not that difficult to get used to. Take Book I, Canto V, stanza 5, for example:

At last forth comes that far renowmed Queene,

With royall pomp and Princely maiestie;

She is ybrought vnto a paled greene,

And placed vnder stately canapee,

The warlike feates of both those knights to see.

On th'other side in all mens open vew

Duessa placed is, and on a tree

Sans-foy his shield is hangd with bloudy hew:

Both those the lawrell girlonds to the victor dew.

In line one, "renowmed" just means "renowned," and should be pronounced with three syllables: "re-nowm-ed," not "renowm'd." There is a difference.

In line two, the knowledge that Spenser typically uses "i" for "j" and "u" for v" is all readers need to read "majesty" for "maiestie." A passing acquaintance with Chaucer would help with line three, which features the Middle English prefix "y-" on "ybrought."

Line four: pronounce "placed" "plas-ed," not "plazd"; and just remember "v" means "u" for "vnder."

Line five presents no problems.

In line six, some readers might wonder why "the other" is contracted to "th'other." Here, a basic knowledge of English prosody is necessary.
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Format: Paperback
EDMUND SPENSER : THE FAERIE QUEENE. Edited by A. C. Hamilton. 753 pp. Longman Annotated English Poets. London and New York : Longman, 1977 and Reissued.
The Longman Annotated English Poets edition of 'The Faerie Queene' has been designed primarily for students and academics, but will appeal to anyone who is looking for an extensively annotated Spenser which gives maximum help with the language, historical allusions, symbolism, allegory, and much else besides. In other words, this is not so much a reader's edition of 'The Faerie Queene' as one for those engaged in an intensive and in-depth study.
The pages are quarto sized (10 by 7.5 inches) and printed in double columns, with Spenser's text being given mainly in the left column, and the accompanying explanatory glosses and extensive and detailed notes given to the right. Hamilton's notes are, in every way, superb, and considerably enrich one's understanding of Spenser's subtle and highly allusive poem. The notes, however, are so extensive, that they can tend to interfere with one's enjoyment of the poem, as there is the constant temptation to glance to the right to read Hamilton's invariably interesting remarks.
Unfortunately, presumably to reduce costs, Spenser's text was not reset, and what we have been given is a much-reduced and rather poor copy of the Oxford University Press edition of 'The Faerie Queene.' The result is a poorly printed text of the poem in a font as miniscule as that used for the sidenotes, and hence one that can be tiring to read. The text of the poem is preceded by Hamilton's informative General Introduction, and the book is rounded out with an extensive Selected Bibliography.
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