Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene: A Reading Guide

Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene: A Reading Guide

Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene: A Reading Guide

Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene: A Reading Guide

Synopsis

Introduces a Renaissance masterpiece to a modern audience.This Guide will help new readers to understand and enjoy The Faerie Queene, drawing attention to its various ironies, its self-reflexive construction, its visual emphasis and the timeless ethical, political, and literary questions that it asks of all of us. The book includes key selections from the poem (each accompanied by a headnote, commentary and glosses), historical and critical discussions, teaching and learning plans and a guide to further resources in electronic and print media.Key Features
• Contains substantial selections from The Faerie Queene • Provides an integrated introduction to Spenser's life, the intellectual and historical context of his writing and the poem's critical reception
• Includes a range of suggestions for teaching and learning about the poem, both in formal seminars and through independent study
• Contains a bibliography of further resources, including a list of editions, a list of key critical studies of the poem and a selection of useful websites

Excerpt

There are many battles in Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene but the first battle of the poem is that of the reader. From the opening stanzas, the poem is swashbucklingly pacy, full of magic and mischief, and often weirdly beautiful. On the other hand, it is long and it may seem difficult, even intimidating. Should you plunge right into an unannotated edition, trusting yourself to get the hang of it as you go along? Or should you invest in a densely commented copy, and pick your painful way through its minutely charactered pages? Spenser anticipated questions like these – no doubt he had asked them of himself, when considering how to read Ovid and Virgil – and in the opening episode of the first canto he offers us some guidance on how to read the poem. Three people – a knight, a princess and a dwarf – get lost in a wood. In the centre of this wood, they discover a cave, inhabited by a fabulous monster, half-woman, half-snake, called Errour. The knight of holiness, Redcrosse, is all for charging headlong into the cave and taking his chances. Believing that his native valour will illuminate his reading of the situation, he tells Una, the princess, that ‘vertue giues her selfe light, through darkenesse for to wade’ (I.i.12.9). Una is not so sure. She counters, ‘yet wisedome warnes, whilest foot is in the gate,

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