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The Faerie Queene (Wordsworth Classics of World Literature) Paperback – 25 Sep 1999


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Product details

  • Paperback: 896 pages
  • Publisher: Wordsworth Editions Ltd (25 Sep 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1840221089
  • ISBN-13: 978-1840221084
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,171,497 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

From the Back Cover

The Characters of The Faerie Queene, compiled by Shohachi Fukuda

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Edmund Spenser (1552-99) is best known for The Faerie Queene, dedicated to Elizabeth I, and his sonnet sequence Amoretti and Epithalamion dedicated to his wife Elizabeth Boyle. Secretary to the Lord Deputy to Ireland, Spenser moved there in 1580 and remained there until near the end of his life, when he fled the Tyrone Rebellion in 1598. T.P. Roche is Professor of English at Princeton University and author of many books on Renaissance literature. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Michael Jacobs VINE VOICE on 29 May 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The literature of Spenser, unlike that of Shakespeare or other contemporaries, is almost always printed with the exact spelling found at at time. I guess this could throw a lot of people off course, but it really is just one of the many amazing elements of this book. As well as the fantastic and fabulous content, the reader becomes aware and synchronised with the linguistic element of such poetic beauty as well.
As an English student, I'm probably slightly biased about the accessibility of the book, but I'd only read a handful of plays from the late 1500s and early 1600s before launching into it. Although being vaguely familar with the syntax of the period, it was unlike anything I'd looked at previously.
But whether you intend to read the whole book from front to cover, or just dip into a few pages to experience the sheer poetic genius and brilliance, you'll experience great pleasure in doing so. It's also great to see this as a paperback version - although it's relatively large, it is portable (if that makes sense).
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER on 12 April 2009
Format: Paperback
Spenser is probably the least read of the 'great' Elizabethan writers, and picking up his Faerie Queen it's easy to see why: it's over a thousand pages of poetry (9 line stanzas) written in a kind of cross-over medieval-renaissance English. Even English graduates tend not to have had to read the whole thing, getting away with selected cantos, a kind of edited highlights. But starting at the beginning and reading it straight through is a completely different experience, and one I'm very glad I have had. While it is overtly a moral and political allegory, Spenser is also a supreme story-teller and frequently very funny (in a literary kind of way).

Full of knights on chivalric quests, dragons, giants, monsters, the evil arch-magus and the sensually-tempting Duessa, this is like every fairy tale and Lord of the Rings copy-cat you've ever read, but put together by a supreme stylist and written in the most flexible, beautiful language. Some of the stories are very moving, others quite bizarre, and there's some very perverse sexuality on display. Since they often unroll simultaneously the narrative is a multi-layered one.

Creating deliberate links with both classical literature (particularly the epics of Homer and Virgil) as well as with medieval (Chaucer, especially) and Spenser's own contemporary Elizabethan age, this is both very different from Sidney and Shakespeare and yet also very close to them at the same time.

The best way to read it is to almost forget the fact that it's 'poetry', ignore the stanzas and simply read as if it were prose. Spenser's own sublime sense of rhythm and rhyme asserts itself and the words align themselves exactly as they need to.

Roche has edited this well but there is no introduction which is a shame, although the notes do extend beyond a simple glossary. But even so, this is a great edition of a magical and really enthralling classic.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 11 April 2003
Format: Paperback
The Faerie Queene is, to my mind, the finest single work of literature in English. It's a huge, encyclopaedia poem that draws in and represents the whole psychological landcape of a highly-educated early modern individual with an extraordinarily fertile imagination. Its allegory tries to incorporate everything - from major cultural structures like the seven deadly sins and the myth of British descent from the Trojans to contemporary political intrigues and theories on the workings of the human mind and body. The poem goes from the heights of religious exultation to brutal representations of colonial power and imperial violence.
No review here is going to do it justice; I've read it several times and written about it a fair bit, but still can't imagine really feeling on top of it. Not everyone will like its dreamlike atmosphere and its frequently slow pace. Even the biggest fan will probably admit that long stretches of it are pretty tedious, particularly in the later stages. But the neglect it's fallen into is unforgiveable. Far too many undergraduates never get made to study the thing, and probably many who don't study literature at university won't ever try it. They should. There's nothing else like it and on its own ground nothing else can come close. In terms of density and richness of meaning, and of sheer proliferation of stories, it's an amazing work of genius that puts Spenser up there with Dante, Shakespeare and the rest of the world's very best writers. It's long and you need to put in a fair bit of effort, but it's worth it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By amoretx on 27 Jan 2013
Format: Paperback
I am a Faerie Queene buff, and was introduced to the work at university via this edition, which has two advantages over other editions (including the more recent Longman updated version). Firstly, the commentary is very clearly set out parallel with the text it is describing (in smaller print, in a righthand column), so while reading a verse you cannot miss the vital information you need to decipher the origins and allusions of what could otherwise be read too shallowly, or simply not understood. Secondly, the commentary itself is absolutely spot-on, striking just the right balance between dictionary definitions and explanation of Spenser's influences (line references to Virgil, Ariosto, the Bible, etc.), together with the editor's own "cf"s, helping the reader to compare stanzas that were written to enlarge and comment upon others as the poem progresses. In my view it is essential to be able to read this poem for fun as a narrative well as well as in a scholarly way, and the poem is just so long that without this kind of layout you can get too bogged down in constantly stopping to check the commentary at the bottom of the page to enjoy it and finish it. (This has happened with me with Milton, unfortunately). A newer Longman edition goes for a cheaper approach, perhaps understandably, but given that this work is one of the greatest ever written in English, it deserves the Hamilton formula.
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