Sunday, May 15, 2016

A Confession About Reading The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser

The Faerie Queene, Book One
Edmund Spenser
Published 1596

Well, it is official: I have quit reading The Faerie Queene.  I finished Book One within the first week; but I still found it stressful to keep up.  I started Book Two, but fell behind because life happened. Now week three is up, and I still have not returned to Book Two.  Let's be honest, Self: it's not happening.  The reading comprehension is deeply challenging, and I need additional reading sources to help with the understanding.

The Faerie Queene had rested on my nightstand, glaring up at me for two weeks.  I finally admitted that I do not want to force myself through it, and end up hating it; therefore, I put it back on my bookshelf because I know I cannot keep up.  I do not want to struggle through it.   You readers know, forcing yourself through a book may also take the joy out of reading.  My life is too complicated enough right now, and I am craving a different kind of reading experience.  Maybe I'll try it another time.

As for Book One, I was excited to read it again.  I was familiar with the allegories, and I treasure medieval literature, which Book One encapsulates.  As with medieval lit, it was both romantic and exciting.  The characters represent virtues and vices, and the theme follows the typical ideal of good conquering evil.  The Faerie Queene is Queen Elizabeth I, for whom The Faerie Queene was written. The Red Crosse Knight, who represents holiness, is England's very own St. George; he has to fight the dragon to save Una's village.  And there is even a cameo appearance by King Arthur, who helps save Red Crosse.  

But like I said, the reading comprehension is challenging, and you need to have a clear head or it is not going to keep your interest.  Sadly, I am not even in the mood to put any effort into a decent post about this.  You can find superb reviews by some of the others who have already written about it, like Jean @ Howling Frog Books, Cleo @ Classical Carousel, and o @ Behold the Stars.

Sorry, but I must abandon my mission.  Maybe another time when I have less weighing me.  I'll be here to cheer the rest of you on!

Red Crosse fighting the dragon


Jean said...

It is certainly not an easy read, and something that I have to gird my loins up for. :) I'm just about done with Book II, a week late from our original (lunatic) schedule. I think we all ran into a cold, hard brick wall of Spenserian reality there! But FQ will always be there for you to read; no reason to force yourself into it if now is not the time. Read what you need to get through this time.

Jillian said...

Seeing you quit makes me feel better about myself. I certainly would have! :) II hope all is well.

Cleo said...

That's really too bad but I sympathize. There is certainly something mentally weighing about this book and I can't quite figure out what. I am able to understand it on one level fine, but perhaps it's thinking about the allegory as well ....... I don't know. I do know that I probably wouldn't finish it on my own so I'm happy to have the group read, and even so I'm falling off the pace. I almost think that I need to read only it and nothing else, which is completely not my style. In any case, I hope that you recover and are able to pick up a joy in reading again. I'm going to press on. Even though it's been a challenge, I have a feeling that something valuable will come out of it.

Ruth said...

This is true. I still have my copy waiting for me, as soon as I can read it with a clear heart and mind. Thanks, Jean!

Ruth said...

I'm hanging in there. Thanks. It's that time of the year. FQ is something to study, not just read. I need a time when I can focus clearly on it. You know how that is.

Ruth said...

It is definitely worth studying. It is so complex and interesting, but it is not something to rush through. You have some excellent reading partners out there, and you will definitely glean from it. I'll be glad to read your reviews to prepare myself, when I am ready to tackle Book Two. Maybe I'll surprise myself. : )

o said...

Definitely agree - you HAVE to be in the mood for it. It is so difficult and there's no point at all in rushing it. For me, I don't think I could have done it without first reading Chaucer (simply to get used to the language) and, oddly enough, John Bale (language again and also his thoughts on the Reformation). For once, even if it was a coincidence, I was relatively prepared. That said, I've started Book II and it's not going quite so well as I had hoped! No idea when I'll finish :S

Anyway, hope all is well with you :)

Ruth said...

I can see FQ being a class, which would be awesome. What a great way to get everything out of this literature! There is so much history there.

I am preparing my next school year in exploration, and I came across a letter sent to Sir Walter Raleigh by Edmund Spenser regarding the FQ. I started reading it, but again, it is challenging. It doesn't even have paragraphs. But I'll be interested in cracking that someday. It seems interesting.

Anonymous said...

I think I'm bowing out as well. I made it through the first book and wrote a post, but I struggled with book II. I've only read one Canto so far and decided to read other stuff.It's the sort of book where that is the only thing you should be doing if you want to understand it. I might go back later if the mood strikes me.

Ruth said...

Yes, that is how I feel, too.