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The Faerie Queene

The Faerie Queene is a poem by Edmund Spenser written during the 1580s.

The poem found political favour with Elizabeth I and was consequently very successful, to the extent of far overshadowing Spenser's other poetry. A measure of the favour which the poem found with the monarch is that Spenser was granted a pension for life on account of it.

The poem celebrates the Tudor dynasty (of which Elizabeth was a part), and links the dynasty with the Arthurian tradition. The poem is deeply allegorical and allusive: many prominent Elizabethans may readily be discerned skulking amongst the dramatis personae.

Many modern readers find this poem (as much of Spenser's poetry) both difficult to read and even more difficult to comprehend. Its sources are both rich and complex, its language both archaic and arcane. Moreover, the structure of the story is not conventionally episodic narrative, but involves fluid and unpredictable transitions in events both forwards and backwards in time. Nevertheless it is a beautifully crafted epic which richly rewards those patient enough to take it on.


External links:

Online edition of The Faerie Queene: http://www.uoregon.edu/~rbear/fqintro



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