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Sunday, September 17, 2006

Stories from the Faerie Queene by Mary MacLeod

I have at long last become owner of this book - which someone has very helpfully typed up onto the internet, as you can see. I do appreciate that many would be quite nauseated by this story - but anyhow, it was my favourite when I was a child. For some reason it was given to a jumble sale and I've been on the lookout for a replacement for a few years now. Hooray for Abebooks.

These stories are taken from Edmund Spenser's poem and written in plain English for children. The English doesn't seem very plain today, as it is written in a style typical of its time - 1897. What I liked about the book was its pictures - engravings of King Arthur's knights in armour, dragons , etc. I think I coloured them in with my watercolours. The stories are pretty good too - I loved Una and the Red Cross knight.

I was listening to a radio programme the other day about Tennyson's The Lady of Shalott (weaving link!) and it made me think of my Faerie Queene book. I presume the Victorians' passion for these legends stemmed partly from the parallels between their Queen and Elizabeth I, who Spenser obsequiously made into his Faerie Queene Gloriana. Wouldn't it be lovely to be clever enough to read the thing in its original.


  • At 18 September, 2006 21:32, Blogger Nick said…

    Irene - to read Spenser 'in the original', a high boredom threshold is probably more relevant than clevernesss. On the other hand, some of the shorter poems are not bad. There's a sinister side to it all too of course . . .

  • At 21 September, 2006 22:47, Blogger Irene Adler said…

    Nick, is there?

  • At 22 September, 2006 14:16, Blogger Nick said…

    Hmm, well without hitting any contemporary political nerves, the FQ is basically Protestant national propaganda. At the time he wrote it Spenser was putting these ideals into action by helping his patron burn loot & pillage his way through the Catholic parts of Ireland . . . I actually rather like some of Spenser's poetry, but, as with Louis-Ferdinand Celine, Philip Larkin & others far too numerous to mention, knowledge of the writer's life can sometimes leave a very unpleasant taste in the mouth

  • At 24 September, 2006 22:57, Blogger Irene Adler said…

    Thank you for those details Nick. I don't know if we can understand the motives and actions of people who lived four hundred years ago, so I'd be slow to condemn. Of course being nice doesn't sit well with being creative - I thought immediately of Eric Gill and then today on the radio I think I heard someone say that John Betjeman never cleaned his teeth.


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