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Fierce Wars and Faithful Loves: Book I of Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene Paperback – January 1, 1999
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About the Author
- Publisher : Canon Press; 1st edition (January 1, 1999)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 240 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1885767390
- ISBN-13 : 978-1885767394
- Reading age : 15 - 17 years
- Grade level : 10 - 12
- Item Weight : 11.2 ounces
- Dimensions : 6 x 0.55 x 9 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #230,427 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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First of all, be aware that Amazon lumps all reviews of the same title together, so while I am specifically reviewing the Kindle edition, you may be seeing my review under the paperback hard copy. That is an Amazon flaw, not my error.
Here is what's wrong with the Kindle edition-
Each stanza of the poem is its own page image, *not* text that you can highlight, underline, or click on any individual word. The text in this page image is incredibly tiny and difficult to read. You can click on the page image to enlarge the image as a whole, but there is no choice as to the size of the page image. Most of the time, the image is made too big for the Kindle page, and it will flip the image end up, so that to read it, you have to turn your kindle around. This means you're doing a lot of flipping your Kindle back and forth as you are first reading with the Kindle screen vertical, and then horizontal, and then back again.
You can select the horizontal screen for the entire text, but then the zoom button doesn't really make the page image of the poem stanza any larger.
That's not even the worst flaw. The thing that makes this edition of Spenser really special (in the actual book form) is Roy Maynard's annotations, footnoted in the text, and usually found right beneath the text. In the Kindle, the footnotes are not hyperlinked. If the Kindle version had been done by somebody with some understanding of what it's like to use a Kindle, you'd be able to click on the footnotes and go right to the corresponding comment, but this version was apparently designed by somebody who secretly (or not so secretly) loathes Kindle users and yearns to drive them mad, so you can't. You can only revert the page image of a stanza with an footnote back to its microscopic size, remember the number to the footnote you want, and then click through until you get to the page with the note for that footmark. It might be the same page, the next page, or three pages later. Then you will have to tediously click back through your previous steps until you get to the enlarged page image of the stanza you were reading, but which you no longer care a fig about because the experience has been so infuriating.
I purchased this for school for my 15 and 13 year olds, and they find the disjointed, bizarre layout difficult to use and the text is complex enough without being derailed by the necessity of switching back constantly from text to page image and back again. This means my teenagers can't read the text independently at all.
You could, of course, just read a stanza or two and then a series of footnote explanations, and we tried that, but it made no sense. A comment such as 'uh oh' is amusing in context, with the footnoted text immediately at hand. In format like this, it's just an 'uh oh,' floating in space, devoid of context or meaning.
Get the hard copy. The text is wonderful, and Maynard makes it very accessible. Do NOT buy the Kindle version. It's a waste of your time.
I am deeply disappointed with this product and hope the powers that be here don't do any more Kindle versions until they Learn. How.
Maynard's footnotes and inserts are extremely helpful, and usually very funny. He does a very good job of explaining unclear passages or words, and also of making connections that Spenser intended but that might not be immediately evident.
If you enjoy Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, I highly recommend this work. I will definitely be coming back to it many times.
Saint George or the Red Cross knight is a flawed character, but he is brave. He fails over and over again, but with fair Una's help, he keeps getting up until he finds grace. I don't catch all the symbolism in the allegory, but the allegorical elements energizes the narrative. I know there is much more going on than what is on the surface.
The author's notes are too cutsey at times, but he shares his enthusiasm with the reader. Maynard comes across as a friend who is encouraging you by saying, "Yep, you're right. This is really great. Are you having fun, yet?" Maynard is obviously a Christian who fundamentally agrees with Spenser on the important things, so Maynard's enthusiasm is real.
Holiness and goodness is palpable in the these pages. It is a life-changing experience. The book is full of gory battles. The battle is real and there are casualties.
I said in the title that the book is transcendental. What I mean is the book, in certain sections, touches areas that strikes the reader to the core. No, the hero is not perfect. Yes, he fails over and over again. But the battles he fights! The nature of forgiveness, pain, guilt, ecstatic joy--Spenser pulld no punches. And to point out another irony of historical revisionism prevalent in the public schools: Spenser has sexual allusions (fear not, for they are used to show, in the words of CS Lewis, "the fierceness of Chastity" and the bloody fight that its worth); even more shocking is that Spenser is a proto-Puritan, thus debunking the whole Puritan "prude" myth. By the way, the true hero in the book is King Arthur, not Redcrosse; you will see why later in the book.
Yes, the book is hard to read, even with Maynard's annotations. But oddly enough, it is easy to follow, by and large. I will end with a quote from CS Lewis, "...to read Spenser is to grow in mental health."