The Faerie Queene is an epic poem written by Edmund Spenser in the late 1500s. This pioneering work of world-building inspired writers like William Wordsworth, John Milton, James Thomson, Alfred Tennyson, John Keats, George MacDonald, and L. Frank Baum, and it was a favorite of C.S. Lewis.
In fact, Lewis thought all teenagers should read Spenser’s poem on a rainy day, in a large, illustrated volume because Faerie Land is chock full of rich characters, wild lands, and grand adventures. Adults who fell in love with these stories as children also reread them over the course of a lifetime, finding more and more meaning at every pass.
Sadly, however, The Faerie Queene is not as well known as other Renaissance works by Shakespeare or Marlowe. (At least not yet.) This is, in part, due to the language Spenser uses—diction even more archaic than the period in which he was writing. Many adults cannot understand the poem, let alone teenagers. So, I’ve spent the past four years working with Renaissance scholars to create a line-by-line, text-faithful prose rendering of Spenser’s work. I’ve included many footnotes referencing Spenserian scholars while offering a version of the text that allows readers to move easily through the plot. My goal isn’t to replace Spenser’s original work—that would be impossible—but to provide a transitional work that gives modern readers the confidence to tackle the original. Art wizard Justin Gerard has illustrated this project, and we will soon release the three-volume work through Sky Turtle Press.
I’ve recorded a brief video introduction to Spenser’s work here. It isn’t necessary for you to view this before our session “She Slays in Mysterious Ways” at Hutchmoot, but if you’re new to Spenser, it might help orient you before we jump into exploring a single character. For more detailed information about The Faerie Queene, as well as an explanation of our work rendering a text-faithful, modern prose version of Spenser’s work, you can visit our website here.
Rebecca K. Reynolds is the editorial director of Oasis Family Media and Sky Turtle Press. She is the author of a text-faithful modern prose rendering of Edmund Spenser’s 1590’s epic poem, The Faerie Queene and of Courage, Dear Heart by Nav Press. Rebecca is a longtime member of the Rabbit Room, and she has spoken at Hutchmoot both in the US and the UK. She taught high school literature for seven years and has written lyrics for Ron Block of Alison Krauss, Union Station.