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The Faerie Queene Paperback – January 25, 1979
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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
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
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
From the Publisher
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
This is a review for the paperback edition.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I am sorry, but I struggle with the old English language. I think I would have preferred a modern language translation.Published 3 days ago by Celtic Knot
Indeed it can, and also comes equipped with an attendant moral education. Edmund Spenser's 'The Faerie Queene' is an absolute marvel; wondrous and....deep. Read morePublished 1 month ago by an acquaintance
Like the work but didn't care for the style of translation or editing or word choice,Published 5 months ago by thirdtwin
The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser (Easton Press Illustrated by Walter Crane) is perhaps one of the world's greatest works of literature and it is one of the longest poems in... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Galdor
This edition of Spenser's The Faerie Queene is compiled and annotated by Thomas P. Roche of Princeton, Spenser Studies, and The Kindly Flame fame. Read morePublished 10 months ago by David V
full of darkness and monstrosities where the writer seems to take us through heaven and hell and back down to earth!Published 15 months ago by Robert.Stephen.Payne.
(This is a review of the five-volume edition from Hackett Publishing.)
As a child, I loved the way Dr. Read more