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Spenser: The Faerie Queene Paperback – Aug 1 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 816 pages
  • Publisher: Longman; 2 edition (Aug. 1 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1405832819
  • ISBN-13: 978-1405832816
  • Product Dimensions: 4.4 x 18.6 x 24.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #80,509 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents


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I am deeply familiar with this edition, having used the first version for many years while I worked (along with Dr Hamilton) as one of the editors of The Spenser Encyclopedia. The second edition is a truly outstanding piece of work, packed with learned commentary, some of it amusingly eccentric. It is not an ideal text for the beginning reader, as Dr Hamilton's capacity for source hunting and unpacking of allegory is unrelenting. But it is a model of a certain kind of approach and for that, an easy 5 stars.

For me, having just discovered that this had been turned into an e-book, the real test was to see how the publishers tamed this fearsome beast to behave for my kindle. Most poetry and commentary is badly done in the new format (I have written a number of cranky reviews of other kindle productions). But the good news is that Spenser's text is allowed to run continuously, and the notes are treated as popups, one note (or link) per stanza. This allows one to read the poem (nicely displayed) without any interruption, or to take a deep dive now and then into the rich treasures of the commentary. The stanza structure allows this approach, which Dr Hamilton followed himself, and it is very pleasing that the publishers have also done the right thing.

The Faerie Queene (even without notes) is accessible for many readers as it presents a strange and intriguing world, a kind of invented medieval world (a 16th-century allegorical Game of Thrones in stanza form), and you don't need to know the sources to everything in order to get the poem. I first read it as an undergraduate in the old two-volume Oxford text with no annotation whatsoever, and of course jumped from one misunderstanding to the next (the medieval vocabulary, the old spelling, the religious allegory, etc.
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Format: Paperback
This is the second edition of the best version of The Faerie Queene available. It is a marked improvement over the first edition. For one thing, you can actually read the type. The first edition looked like it was mimeographed (for those of you who remember what that looked like). The layout is now much better, and the notes (on the same page and with the same size font as the text) and cross references remain indispensable for anyone not born in 1600.
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By A Customer on Sept. 11 2003
Format: Paperback
I would have to disagree with the reviewer that called Spenser's epic "fun" to read... it is a lot of work, not only because of the length but because of the archaisms involved in Spenserian diction. On the other hand the work is definitely fruitful, one finds passages of indelible beauty and insight. For scholarly criticism I would recommend the Oxford edition ("Poetical Works") with an introduction by E. de Selincourt: he often points out just the stanza or two that helps place the entire poem into a new perspective. Make no mistake about it, the Spenserian stanza (ababbcbcc) is a difficult read, whether one is talking Byron's "Childe Harold" or Novak's "Requiem": in all cases (I would say) a significant amount of effort is required, simply to follow the train of the author's thought, which, because of the difficult nature of the stanza perhaps, is not necessarily clearly linear... but in the long run, MAKE NO MISTAKE the effort is clearly worth it, and Spenser, if not exactly conforming to one's expectations, will not exactly disappoint them either. A worthwhile read, even in bits and pieces, if you cannot adhere to the storyline as a whole.
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