RE: Spenser

This is addressed to all IT professionals who have expressed interest in reading Edmund Spenser’s Fairie Queene.  This work is recommended only for the most advanced English students, proceed with caution.  Please carefully review all proceeding points for best results.

(1) Don’t Panic

Prepare yourselves ladies and gentlemen, what you are about to see may be quite disturbing.  Roughly 90% of the words in Faerie Queene fail to conform to modern spelling conventions. You must resist the urge to copy and paste the text into a word processor and run spell check, the results would be incomprehensible.   Instead I suggest you use the “Clayton Method”, sounding out words in order to derive meaning.  Proceed extremely slowly, associating each word with its modern equivalent.  Reading Spenser is a lot like reading a new programming language.   It may seem baffling at first but you will get the hang of it soon enough.

(2) Get help!

Now you may technically be ‘reading’ Faerie Queene, but you probably don’t understand any of it.  A few hours in you may find yourself asking, “wait, what the **** is going on?” (Zack Goldman, 11/5/2009).  Lets face it, having a non-English major read Spenser is like putting a kindergartner in a graduate level Engineering course.  Don’t be afraid to get help.  Online review resources can be extremely helpful, but they are not a substitute for reading the actual text.  Reading a plot summary of a given Canto before delving into the text will serve to familiarize you with the unknown.  Bear with it!

(3) No. You aren’t going crazy.

So at this point you should be capable of reading Spenser, and maybe even following the plot.  Soon enough however, someone is going to ask you what it all means.  When this moment comes do not be surprised, you will realize that you have been slaving over a roughly 400 year-old poem for hours on end… and you have no idea what it all means.  This is the point at which most people give up, but if you’ve made it this far you have proven to be resilient.  Now is the time to seek the help of Renaissance poetry expert.  You can find one at most major universities.  Don’t be scared, they are just like you and I.  If you mention Fairie Queene to of one of these experts they may faint out of excitment.  Don’t worry; they will come around soon enough (smelling salts expedite this process).  When these individuals do come to they will regale you will all sorts of obscure knowledge, helping you to understand the ever so cryptic allusions.  Now you can drop this knowledge into every day conversations, paralyzing unsuspecting victims.  But remember, “With great power comes great responsibility”.

Armed with the “Clayton Method”, online resources, and a Renaissance poetry expert, you should be able to tackle Spenser’s Faeirie Queene in the next 7 to 10 years.  Enjoy!

 

-Zack Goldman

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