Look at all the Faeries – Post for Week 6

BEFORE YOU READ: Shocker, I’m far behind in posts! Feel free to ignore this post and focus on those who are up to date. 🙂

For starters, I have a love/hate relationship with texts like The Faerie Queen. I wouldn’t call myself a “fast” or “good” reader by any means, so when I have to read something like this my brain hurts. Usually, I rely on my classmates and teachers to provide their thoughts and interpretations; as we know these are unusual times and we’re all forced to adapt to our new (and seemingly permanent) life. I like to listen to my peers first and get their interpretations for two reasons: One, to see if my interpretation was even valid and/or other people picked up on similar things that truck me. Two, I usually can make new connections after hearing a different perspective. It’s really important to consider views different from your own, it provides more learning opportunities. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate reading literature in different variations of English. It’s fascinating to see how the vocabulary, spelling, structure of words and sentences has evolved throughout the years. On the other hand, it frustrates me because it takes me twice as long to read and understand every stanza (in this case).

While it may be frustrating, I find myself more emerged in the story itself. When reading an “easier” (or more modern) text, I often skim parts because I don’t get tripped up every other word. By reading, re-reading and re-re-reading, the dots were slowly connected providing me with wonderful “ah-ha” moments. Instead of trying to read the text and get it over with, I found myself spending several minutes on single lines, or even just single words. The 15th stanza was one that stood out to me in particular.

“127 And as she lay vpon the durtie ground,

128 Her huge long taile her den all ouerspred,

129 Yet was in knots and many boughtes vpwound,

130 Pointed with mortall sting. Of her there bred

131 A thousand yong ones, which she dayly fed,

132 Sucking vpon her poisonous dugs, eachone

133 Of sundry shapes, yet all ill fauored:

134 Soone as that vncouth light vpon them shone,

135 Into her mouth they crept, and suddain all were gone.”

After my first read through of this stanza, I was frazzled to say the least.

Sorry, couldn’t help but relate to Frazzled Jim here. But to get back on track, I keep plugging away at these confusing lines. After I refocused and slowed down, it became easier and easier. First, the spelling of “daily” was very interesting to me. I always wondered why y was “sometimes” a vowel, but when analyzing older English it’s clear that it was often in place of “i.” Anyways, the description of her “victims” was so vivid that I felt like I was in her Cave (I’m assuming that’s what the author meant by “dark hole”) starting right at her victims. It’s a chilling thought, sundried human corpses just scattered about her lair. This text taught me that even though texts written in old English may seem so foreign, it’s not that different. Instead of telling myself that it was over before I had even read it, I learned a valuable lesson: have a bit more faith in yourself and just keep trying. Don’t dismiss a text just because it’s “difficult,” we’re reading it for a reason. I’ve been doing myself a disservice by dismissing these texts because they’re “boring” or “confusing.” I’m really looking forward to the next Canto’s and diving in a bit deeper into the themes and nuances.

3 thoughts on “Look at all the Faeries – Post for Week 6

  1. Faerie Queene is written in a deliberately archaic style, so it makes me wonder how different it would be if Spenser wrote it using the language he was accustomed to in the 1590s. Would it lose its “effect,” whatever it may be? I can’t remember where I read it, but a scholar wrote something about how Spenser was essentially a hipster of his time, trying to write in what he considered to be a “higher form” of the English language so he turned to the writing masters that came before him and copied their language. Spenser thought writing had become too “plain,” I guess? Take it with a grain of salt, though, I have no clue where I read that!

  2. We are so very used to reading text for the content, skimming for the informative bits of news or science or gossip. I think you’re right here, Spenser is deliberately trying to get his audience to slow down. This is something we do in film all the tall: sweeping panoramas of landscapes, slow close-up shots of actor reactions. Spenser is trying to achieve that same kind of focus in language.

  3. ill be honest, I never thought of the Spenser deliberately using the type of language he used for this text till now. I see now that as Dr. Helms said, Spenser is trying to make us slow down and actually read this text. This is honestly rocking my world a little bit, because I always thought this choice of language was just the language of the time, and now I’m seeing it a stylistic choice. I wonder how many other authors I have read were doing the same thing.

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