Classics Challenge: The Faerie Queen

I did it! This former non-poetry girl has conquered her first epic poem! It took Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queen (Book 1) but I did it. And I liked it. Now, I won't say how many attempts of other epic poems I've attempted and given up on because we're being positive here but I do think several things contributed to my success this time. 1) I read it slowly with a group. It took us four months but we narrated it together and discussed which helped. 2) I'm kinda already on a middle ages kick right now.  Mostly because I'm reading through the history and literature selections of Ambleside Online year 7 but now that it's on the brain, I'm listening and reading about it in other places as well. I really enjoyed this Circe Podcast in which Angelina Stanford talks about the Celtic influence and medieval Christian Allegory. I think it helped me a lot as I read through this poem. 3) I used Fierce Wars and Faithful Loves which updates the spelling and gives sidenotes for other words that you might (probably will!) need help on. It also has a few footnotes to help you out.  4) Lastly, it just so happens that St. George and the Dragon is one of the kid's favorite picture books which is the same story. So I was at least familiar with some of the characters and the basic idea although the picture book leaves some stuff out, understandable.
This piece really stretched me. It was also very enjoyable. It took some effort to find a balance between really digging deep and working on getting the meat out of it and sometimes stepping back and saying, "Okay, I got the gist and that's good enough." 

Luckily, I wasn't reading just for some soul enlightening allergorical enlightenment. I mean, that was there and it was really good especially when it came time for discussion. It's deep and gives you lots to think about...and this coming from someone who has to fake her enthusiasm for Pilgrim's Progress because her second grader loves it and she doesn't want to dampen that. I know, President Lincoln would be ashamed to have his picture hanging in our living room. 

 But, I was engrossed in the story itself. I wrung my hands when the Red Cross made some stupid decisions. "No! Don't do it!" I cringed at some of the uglier parts. "Well, that doesn't sound very pleasant at all. Now let's move on before I vomit" and then I rejoiced at the happy ending! (Sorry if that's a spoiler ;-) I look forward to reading this again with my kids in a few years and hearing their narrations and ideas about it. 

This was my Back to the Classics Challenge Pre-1800 Classic. Visit Books and Chocolate for more classic reviews. 

1 comment :

  1. I don't know why I'm always surprised that classics are actually good stories, but I am, so I guess I'll just accept the perpetual re-realization that these books are read and reread for a reason. I couldn't process the poetry in larger chunks, but I didn't want to put the book down for days at a time either.