Fortunately, in reviewing this book I am not faced with the usual difficulty of separating the quality of the work itself from the quality of its presentation; both are exquisite.
Edmund Spenser's _The Faerie Qveene_ is rightly considered one of the timeless masterpieces of English literature. Collectively, it is an embodiment of and a response to both medieval and Renaissance themes and devices. The medieval romantic and Arthurian genres are blended with Petrarchan techniques and Neoplatonic philosophy. Nevertheless, Spenser maintains a distinct style all his own; the nine-line stanza is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful conventions in poetic verse. Oh yeah, and it's a darn good story too.
This edition of the "booke" far outshines any other I've encountered. The text itself is annotated with copious footnotes which explain unclear passages, point out allusions to classical, medieval and contemporary events, and provide criticism. All of the peripheral material associated with _The Faerie Qveene_ is also provided, including the dedication to Raleigh and introductory sonnets. Other value-adding perks include a comprehensive bibliography, a chart showing minor changes made between the poem's three publications, and a character guide.
Though this thick volume may seem daunting, it is in fact quite enjoyable. The notes are fairly unintrusive, so the casual reader can skim or read through the poem at his or her own pace, with the option to delve deeper if he or she desires.
I strongly advise anyone with an interest in Renaissance literature, Shakespeare, poetry, or English literature as a whole, to purchase this book, and to dish out the bit of extra money for this particular edition.