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THE FAERIE QUEENE
EDITED, WITH INTRODUCTION, NOTES
AND SUGGESTIONS FOR STUDY
COPYRIGHT, 1905, BY HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN & co.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
The Riverside Press
This edition of the first book of The Faerie Queene has been prepared for use in courses in the history of English literature where the aim in studying Spenser is, first, to lead students, persuasively, to an enjoyment of his poetry; and, second, to give them that initial training in the study of literature which shall develop their intellectual independence. In order to further these ends, the notes have been made very brief. All attempt to identify Spenser's obligations to other authors, or to relate The Faerie Queene to his other works, has been omitted, in the belief that these copious references overwhelm young readers with a feeling that Spenser is a poet to be read chiefly by the erudite. Close study of sources may, without great loss, be left for more advanced students. References to the great pagan divinities, Apollo, Jove, Diana, etc., will not be explained, nor will those common archaic words be translated, such as perchance, eek, etc., which should be familiar to every student of literature. Students are expected to turn to the unabridged dictionary for interpretation of such poetic diction. In the explanation of archaic words the intention has been to give those only which possess intrinsic difficulty for the student, while comment on many has been neglected simply for the sake of challenging, as far as possible, the imagination, the reason, and the power of observation. Many words
that are in modern use are hidden under archaic spelling, and, in order to identify these, students are advised to try the following experiments, taking pains always to pronounce the word aloud, for in all study of language we must think of the spoken and not of the written form. 1. Pronounce all the syllables, as in leke=leaky. 2. Shorten or lengthen the vowels in turn. 3. Soften or harden c, g, ch. 4. Remove prefixes y, be, for, which we no longer use.
5. Transpose letters, as in crudled = curdled. 6. Omit initial h, as in heben = ebon. 7. Substitute one vowel for another, as in lilled=lolled. The burden, also, of interpreting the allegory is thrown upon the student, who, aided by the table of allegories and by certain questions proposed, ought to be able to understand the most important points of Spenser's ethical teaching in the first book. The essential thing is that students of the twentieth century should not have the researches of three hundred years thrust before them, but should be allowed the pleasure of meeting Spenser with a freshness of appreciation allied as closely as possible to that of the young Elizabethans.
M. H. S. WELLESLEY, Mass.,
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF SPENSER
The circumstances of Spenser's early life are not recorded, and we can, at best, only conjecture what was his native endowment and what the shaping influences that surrounded him. The Lancashire Spensers, from whom he was descended, were people comfortably prosperous and well connected, but it is believed that Spenser's father was unfortunate, and that the boyhood of the poet was familiar with poverty. The year of his birth is uncertain, the date usually accepted being 1552. The place was that part of London called East Smithfield, outside the city walls, where were green meadows and country lanes. The love of nature which characterizes all of Spenser's poetry was doubtless developed in this semi-rustic birthplace and preceded his love for books.
In 1561, probably, he was a pupil at the newly established Merchant Taylors' School, in London, where he studied to some purpose, forming an acquaintance with Greek and Latin, and with French and Italian as well, if the supposition is correct that he was author of certain translations from Petrarch and from Bellay published in 1569 by John Vander Noodt.
From London Spenser went to Pembroke Hall, Cambridge University, and was registered in 1569 as a sizar, a title given to poor students who waited at table. His university life was not eventful; he made enduring friendships with Edward Kirke and Gabriel