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Spenser: The Faerie Queene Paperback – Aug 21 2006

4.7 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 816 pages
  • Publisher: Pearson; 2 edition (Aug. 21 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1405832819
  • ISBN-13: 978-1405832816
  • Product Dimensions: 19 x 4.8 x 24.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #115,848 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


“All in all, it is a major work of scholarship, combining a meticulously prepared text with splendid annotation. It will last, and will help inspire new generations of readers.” 

Tom MacFaul, Notes and Queries


Hamilton 's edition of the Faerie Queene is indispensable to any serious scholar of Spenser .” review

From the Back Cover

Hamilton's edition is a masterpiece of scholarship and close reading. The entire work is revised, and the text of The Faerie Queene itself has been freshly edited, the first such edition since the 1930s. The text, itself a milestone in academic achievement, has been produced by Hiroshi Yamashita and Toshiyuki Suzuki and is now considered the new standard text of the poem.

This edition continues the excellent scholarship of the first edition; Hamilton provides exceptionally full and careful annotation of the text, detailed guidance to critical comment, and a wealth of introductory material setting the poem in its historical and literary context. This edition also includes additional original material which includes a chronology, a letter to Raleigh, commendatory verses, and dedicatory sonnets. A list of characters and their appearances has also been compiled by Shohachi Fukuda, listing their place in the poem and commentary on the names. As a sign of its enduring appeal, this edition was, in 2005, awarded the Isobel MacAffery Award by the International Spenser Society for its outstanding contribution to Spenser studies. 

A. C. Hamilton is the retired Cappon Professor Emeritus at Queen's University, Kingston, Canada. He is the General Editor of Spenser Encyclopedia.

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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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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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Format: Paperback
This second edition of "The Faerie Queene," with A.C. Hamilton as the editor, again sets the standard for critical editions of Edmund Spenser's classic poem. This volume replaces Hamilton's first edition of the poem as the standard academic text. Anyone who is serious about studying the poem should purchase this particular edition. In addition to featuring a much clearer typeface than that of the first edition, the second edition contains critical commentary about the poem that is as current as one could expect (i.e., through the '90s). The footnotes are conveniently and unobtrusively placed at the bottom of the text, so one can easily ignore them, if they prefer. However, the labyrinth of cross-references are highly informative, provocative, and illustrate the poem's incredible richness. I find myself so engaged in the contemporary criticism of the poem that I'm constantly going to the library to read the articles to which the notes refer.
If you already have the first edition that was edited by Hamilton (or if you were lukewarm about reading Spenser in the first place), you may not need this updated edition, unless you would like to read the updated essays and commentary. However, if you love "The Faerie Queene," this particular volume will provide you with many hours (and possibly years) of enjoyment. It is well known that the poem is one of the greatest ever to be penned in the English language. In the second edition, Hamilton helps us all understand why this poem speaks so powerfully to us over four hundred years later. This is truly a marvelous poem and a great academic text.
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