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The Faerie Queen
Edmund Spenser
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The Faerie Queen

3.52 of 5 stars 3.52  ·  rating details  ·  10,662 ratings  ·  235 reviews

The Faerie Queene is an English epic poem by Edmund Spenser, published first in three books in 1590, and later in six books in 1596. The Faerie Queene is notable for its form: it was the first work written in Spenserian stanza. It is an allegorical work, written in praise of Queen Elizabeth I. Largely symbolic, the poem follows several knights in an examination of several

Published 2007 by Wordsworth Editioins Ltd. (first published 1590)
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To me, this is the great long poem in English, beside which Paradise Lost seems like a clumsy haiku. Where Milton is precise and sententious, Spenser is exuberant, almost mad, and always focused on sheer reading pleasure. His aim is to take you on a crazed sword-and-sorcery epic, and his style combines godlike verbal inventiveness with the sort of eye for lurid details that an HBO commissioning editor would kill for.

It's almost like fan fiction. One imagines Spenser getting high over his copy of
How astonishing is the literary fecundity of England's Elizabethan Age - Spenser, Sidney, Shakespeare, Marlowe, Jonson, the list can go on and on. I last read "The Faerie Queene" more than forty-five years ago in a college English class, and then only in snippets. I felt that now was the time to read the poem in its entirety, and what a treat it has been.

The poem consists of seven books (the last being foreshortened to only two cantos) of twelve cantos each. Each canto contains about fifty stanz
When it comes to sheer reading pleasure, it is almost impossible to beat "The Faerie Queene". It has nearly everything that a reader could desire; action, romance, deep philosophical and theological meaning, allegory, pitched battles on fields of honor, blood, swords, spears...everything that makes life worth living. And it is all wrapped in some of the most beautiful language ever to be set down in the English tongue. Spenser was a master of English, and you can sense that he wrote for the joy ...more
Jan 07, 2010 Werner rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Serious students of literature; fans of Renaissance poetry
Shelves: poetry
I read this (in a different edition, without notes and which preserved the Elizabethean spellings) as part of my course preparation for teaching British Literature when we were home schooling our girls, and found it a challenging --though not unrewarding-- read. The quaint spellings and archaic diction and vocabulary require slow and careful reading to mentally translate. Fully enjoying the work as Spenser originally intended is difficult (if not impossible), first because it's only half finishe ...more
This is the favourite book I have ever laid my eyes on. I do not own the book. But what I remember of it is the perfect enchantement, of the world pf magic done in perfect Renaissance style glorifying the Queen Elizabeth 1.The best gook, inventive specenrian language, en English Rabelais in style with delightful concetto which create splendid and bustling world of the mythic geography Britain with Renaissance England.The quest of Arthurian Knight is so specifically Renaissance, and spencerian, t ...more

I first really read this poem in graduate school with a teacher so superb he made Spenser, Milton, Donne, Herbert, and Marvell exciting. They are still among my favorite poets.

Faerie Queene is Spenser's richly imaginative 16th-century epic poem depicting the education/spiritual growth of the Redcrosse Knight. In Spenser's epic being able to distinguish between good and evil, true and false becomes imperative, but difficult in a landscape that is deceptive and illusory.

Spenser's landscapes metamo
David Acevedo
Alright. So sometimes you read books merely in order to feel good about yourself. I'm a sinner.

Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene, deemed one of the most difficult books int he English language, I read as a challenge to myself, which also included David foster Wallace's Infinite Jest and Joyce's Ulysses. I read them all and am proud of it.

So The Faerie Queen is epic poetry. It celebrates Queen Gloriana (one of the many dubs of Elizabeth I). I won't go into "plot" details in this review. I'll s
Some place Ariosto above Dante because he tempers his ridiculously erratic romanticism with remarkable satire, joie de vivre, and a gently sloping concession to an ending. While both Ariosto's and Spenser's works are long-winded, Spenser never overcomes the need for vindication which gradually grew out of this work. This desperation precluded the light-heartedness that buoyed Ariosto's lengthy tale.

The more one reads The Faerie Queene, the more one begins to respect Liz's desire to keep this man
Sep 24, 2007 Peter rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: avid LOTR fans
At first, I read it and thought: what is this? I can barely understand the words coming out of their mouths! Thenne aftere a whille the odde spellungs and clus approxametions of currenntly spellede words becammes understandable.

I found the story itself to bee quite interesting, vivid action, big battles, giants swinging clubs made from tree trunks with such force, they bury them in the ground, villains in disguise, noble knights, "ruined" women committing suicide and leaving a still living chil
David Cole
Perhaps the greatest thing ever written in the English language. This masterpiece of medieval symbolism and epic poetry humbles the reader. 5 stars is inadequate.
Jacob Aitken
As Galadriel said in Return of the King, some things which shouldn't have been forgotten were lost. Spenser is one of those things. One of the great tragedies in Western pedagogy has been this ignorance of Spenser. He tells a beautiful story using the vehicle of hypnotic poetry. And there is sex. Lots of it. But even the sexual themes have pedagogical ends. Britomart is not merely chaste. She is told to vigorously pursue chastity. This does not mean merely to avoid all types of sexual encounters ...more
Don't be scared off by this one. Spenser wrote the greatest poem that emerged from the age of Shakespeare. Surrender yourselve's to his lingo, his rhythm, his abundant humor. There are images in this poem I'll never forget, along with one of the most compelling and admirable female warriors ever realized in a poem, Britomart. What a babe. Seriously

The language may be tough at first for contemporary readers, but as recently as 120 years ago, FQ was pretty standard children's reading--the kids rea
Wendy Verkler
It's really good if you like linguistic puzzles. If medieval English bothers you, you will hate this book.

Also, you must like wizards (good and evil), potions, jousting knights, hidden identities, mermaids, jesters, princesses, castles, trap doors, secret passages, dark and dangerous forests, magical/mythical creatures, magic mirrors, women in disguise fighting as knights, nymphs, treasure chests, pagan gods, Merlin, King Arthur, various knights of the round table as well as ones you aren't fam
Nov 16, 2010 Brian marked it as on-hold  ·  review of another edition
Read a few books of this in college. Aim now to read all of the 6 or so books Spenser was able to achieve (1 book=12 cantos, 1 canto=45 Spenserian stanzas, 1 Spenserian stanza=9 lines of a set rhyme and meter) of his original 12-book plan. Great stuff: knights, princesses, evil magicians, Arthurian mythology, etc., all employed to fashion the 12 moral virtues (or about 6, I guess) as understood by Spenser in 1596. Oh, and it's deliberately written in archaic English (a la Chaucer), which is smas ...more
The Faerie Queene itself: five stars. What an amazing piece of literature. I had stayed away from it for a while after only reading the first book (which I still think is not all that impressive), but picked it up again for a class on Elizabethan poetry. The poem is so thick and complicated that I doubt one can ever completely 'get' it, and I look forward to diving back into it in a few years to see new things.

Hamilton's edition: three stars. I was somewhat unimpressed with the edition, though
This book has stacked underneath it the most extensive amount of lit crit of anything I've ever read, save Shakespeare (maybe!). If Spenser really intended all that everyone say he did, then he is a friggin genius. There are umpteen-thousand pages in this book, but if you give it a go (especially the A.C. Hamilton-edited annotation, paired with his The Spenser Encyclopedia, a tome so massive you could probably murder someone with it), you will learn almost everything you need to know about Eliza ...more
Nicholas Whyte[return][return][return]This is one of the curiosities of the English language, a long poem written in its own peculiar verse structure in which archetypal figures based on myths of many different origins contend for mastery of spoils, women and virtue in a fantasy landscape which resembles the north of County Cork. Some of the allegory is pretty straightforward, as when Prince Arthur springs to the defence of the cruelly oppressed lady Belge; other part ...more
Nick Bond
The earliest English poets were charged with paving new ground for future generations, so it's strange that Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queen opts to look solely in the rearview. The most obvious instance of this is in the words themselves, many of which are borrowed from Middle English and spelled differently from their modern counterparts. If you're thinking of trudging through this lackluster epic, bear in mind that "u" is often used in place of "v" and "i" in place of "j." Otherwise, the dif ...more
This poem is amazing. I spent a year researching it, and I there is still a lot I could do with it. Spenser is a very visual poet, and the images he conjures are vivid and weird. He's highly underrated right now, and not a lot of students realize how influential a poet he really was. He's also an interesting figure because he is one of the first english poets to write about ireland, and had a weirdly antagonistic and nostaligic attitude toward the country. He loved Ireland geographically, and wr ...more
Alexis Hall
I've always secretly thought you can like Spenser or Milton, but no both. So I guess that makes me Team Spenser. This is honestly a ridiculous book - monsters vomiting Catholic frogs, fountains full of desporting naked boys, more lovingly described breasts than erotica written, by a 14 year old boy - but, yeah, I kind of have a fondness. It does, however, have a female knight, Britomart (sounds like a supermarket to me), the embodiment of chastity who sets out to rescue her dude from a bad guy, ...more
Linette Soberay
An absolutely beautiful book. Far from my expectations though. I went in having never heard of the book and thinking that it would be about imagination and fantasy. Instead I met with a beautiful representation of Christianity and defining virtues that all should possess. Britomart is by far one of my new favorite women to be represented in a book. Her ability to wait for her true love and to not obsess over him before she knows he is the one. She is inspiring and I would love to be able to say ...more
So far I have read Books I & II. These are not light readings, there are many pauses in which you flip to the back of the book and find a note so you can better understand what is happening. Another thing to understand is that this book is actually an epic poem, and the content is almost completely an allegory, if you are not prepared to spend the necessary time to think and figure out what everything means you will only be doing yourself and the book a disservice. If you decide to pick it u ...more
Jennifer Tuck-Ihasz
Also a book I read for a class. I am not a Spenser fan and this is probably an unfair star rating, but I don't care.
As I sat with a gravely ill cousin in the hospital, the one thing he said would bring him comfort was for me to read him specific excerpts from The Faerie Queen. I was incredibly intimidated, because the verse is in archaic English and would be difficult to read aloud, but like Shakespeare, it's easy to figure out the meter very quickly.

Now, I did not read the whole book aloud, but I did read it, from cover to cover, over the years that followed that cousin's death, and I enjoyed being sucked i
David Russell Mosley
A book that every young man (and woman) ought to read. Bearing in mind the time and that some of the societal ideals and gender constructions were different, this book, this poem is well worth a read by any and all who seek to be better, more virtuous. Young men ought to read it to garner an idea of what a man is. Women too should read it to see how they ought to expect men to be. In all, a wonderful, and sadly unfinished tale, of true virtue.
James Riley
Not altogether bad; but not altogether that great either

Not altogether bad; but not altogether that great either

This book definitely has its issues. Whoever made this book into an eBook must not have known the difference between a "u" and a "v", because several times throughout the book a "u" was used instead of a "v"
and vise versa. Also it is extremely difficult to spot mistakes because it is written with archaic English. Therefore some words that look misspelled are really spelled exactly the
Bill Chamberlain
This book is utterly boring and outdated. It is a total PR stunt to gain political favour, and a humorless one at that.

I knew two friends who almost transferred out of their English major because they found this work so tediously repellant.

Time to excommunicate this dud from the English major canon. Please.
Bryn Hammond
I never met language I like more. The Red Cross knight in book one is a dear, and later there's Britomart, she-knight. Stuffed with sex and violence. Such fun and earnest intent. Has the wild adventures of Boiardo and Ariosto but Spenser, bless him, is far more serious than they... like Malory after the frivolous chivalry.
I can't stand this goddamn book. The whole thing is a big kiss-ass to Queen Elizabeth, and on top of that Spenser lived in an estate in Ireland like a big rich English ass. I believe it burned down... ha.
This is the beginning of all the cool books that are being published today IMO. There are fairies, morality lessons, bad characters pretending to be good, a quest, love - it has it all!
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What are Edmund Spenser's writings about? 1 7 Jun 07, 2013 11:21AM  
Is it true that The Faerie Queene has an 800,000 word count? 3 14 May 26, 2013 10:08AM  
Epic Fantasy? 2 9 Dec 27, 2012 08:41PM  
Does anyone know the word count for The Faerie Queene? 1 8 Dec 27, 2012 07:41PM  
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Edmund Spenser (c. 1552 – 13 January 1599) was an important English poet and Poet Laureate best known for The Faerie Queene, an epic poem celebrating, through fantastical allegory, the Tudor dynasty and Elizabeth I.

Though he is recognized as one of the premier craftsmen of Modern English verse in its infancy, Spenser is also a controversial figure due to his zeal for the destruction of Irish cultu
More about Edmund Spenser...
The Faerie Queene, Book One Edmund Spenser's Poetry Fierce Wars and Faithful Loves (Spenser's Faerie Queen, #1) The Faerie Queene, Book Two The Faerie Queene, Books Three and Four

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“For there is nothing lost, that may be found, if sought.” 1291 likes
“For whatsoever from one place doth fall,
Is with the tide unto an other brought:
For there is nothing lost, that may be found, if sought.”
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