The Faerie Queene (Paperback)
The Faerie Queene is Edmund Spenser's magnum opus, composed for Queen Elizabeth I. The epic poem is incomplete, as only six of the intended twelve books were published before the poet's death. Despite that, it stands as one of the longest poems in the English language.
Spenser used Aristotle's list of virtues as the foundation for his work. Each of the six books follows a different knight who symbolize a unique virtue: the Knight of the Redcross for Holiness, Guyon for Temperance, Britomartis for Chastity, Cambell and Telamond for Friendship, Artegall for Justice, and Calidore for Courtesy. Fragments of an unfinished seventh book-the "Cantos of Mutability"-would have centered on the virtue of Constancy. In a letter to Sir Walter Raleigh, Spenser reveals that King Arthur represents the virtue of Magnificence, "the perfection of all the rest."
The poem opens with the Redcross Knight on a quest ordered by Queen Gloriana to defeat a horrible dragon. Traveling with him is Lady Una and her dwarf servant, who are leading the knight to the land where the dragon dwells. A terrible storm forces the travelers to shelter in the nearest cave-and a monster's den.
Just as charming and edifying now as it was when first published in 1590, The Faerie Queen is a masterpiece of fantastic literature that continues to enchant readers all over the world.