It’s no “Questionable Content” or “Penny Arcade”, but…

Breon W. Guarino

(Wolfgang is not my middle name at all.)


“I’ve enjoyed this greatly. In all seriousness, I am thrilled with the prospect of continuing the process of pulling out the awkward (to my untrained mind), deeply-embedded, and persistent allegories of Spenser’s work. It is deep reading, almost as though one was slogging through a marsh made of candy and deliciousness that one must work for. It is like reading Shakespeare while under the influence of morphine, so utterly beautiful in its Middle English verbosity that it presents a massive buffet of purely enjoyable poetry, the likes of which that has not been seen in centuries, at the least.”

I wish I could say that with a straight face, but it should not be assumed that the accompanying grin is one of mischief. I’m not sure why, but I find a great joy in reading The Faerie Queene. It would not be dishonest to say that I aspire to find a copy and set about reading it myself. It may be some sort of academic masochism that causes this, or perhaps I simply want to be able to hold that accomplishment over the heads of any other English majors that I meet. In any case, I view it in the same way I viewed leveling in LotRO or writing stories.

It is a challenge. After all, it’s pretty rough getting through the convoluted Middle English terminology. There are letter sequences that I do not recognize, but the work of others before me has paved the way towards a slightly more accessible understanding of the material. In a sense, working on The Faerie Queene is like using open-source software, in that the efforts of several people (at least hundreds if not thousands, in the case of The Faerie Queene) have come together to make the original basis more useful to an everyday user that happens across it. It would be a serious personal accomplishment to read through the entirety of it, and there is a certain pleasure to noticing the way that the spoken English language has changed in five hundred years. It’s akin to pillaging the archive of a long-running webcomic and watching as the author develops his or her skills, except that it is AN ENTIRE LANGUAGE that is being developed over the course of CENTURIES. Besides that, a reader can see the perspective of an entirely alien society within the pages. Things have changed since the time period in which the work was made, but the blunt allegory of the poetry was effective in its purposes during its original time, and it makes one wonder about situations and events that could have changed the perspectives of that day to become those of ours.

I would wager that, in the end, I’d say to an IT professional the same thing that I would say to anyone else interesting about reading this work (because I doubt strongly that we would be discussing it otherwise). It’s an interesting piece of work with its own rewards for reading it, it’s proving to be as challenging (or perhaps even more challenging) than I anticipated, and I heartily enjoy that fact to the point that I look forward to continuing it. It is a matter of perspective, and it requires a rather specialized mindset, but it has proven to be highly interesting for me, if nothing else.