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

A Letter to the Professor:

November 5, 2009

Dearest Professor Hall,

I am writing you with deep regret to inform you that my experience of reading Renaissance poetry has been horrific beyond belief. The word on the street is that this Edmund Spencer guy is a genius and writes better than Shakespeare, but boy did I think I was a bad speller; this guy is terrible. That Cambridge degree must not have been worth much back then. I feel like I am reading one of my litter sisters’ 1st grade papers except this one rhymes better.

I do not understand why he has to write like that anyhow. Why cant poetry people just straight up say what they mean? He makes everything so much more confusing and difficult by trying to make everything rhyme, and like every three words is an allusion to this, or an analogy about that. No one actually enjoys reading stuff like that except for maybe super English nerds like Professor Clayton. But what average 18 or 19 year-old would enjoy being confused for two hours trying to decipher the English version of Morse code?

Sure Professor Hall, I know you are a smart guy and all, but just like we [the entire student body] feel, I’m sure you could think of far better things to do with your life than attempt to read the worlds hardest poetry. And another thing, why is the book so freaking long? I mean I know we are not reading the whole thing in class but I could kill people with this book it is so huge. Where someone can find the motivation to write poetry for 10 years straight is quit impressive though.

I have to admit, the idea as a whole of each book being about a certain virtue. That is pretty cool. It kind of reminds me of the horror movie called SE7EN where a serial killer is out to get characters that represent each of the seven deadly sins. Including the horror part that is how I imagined reading this Renaissance poetry would be!

But you know what Professor Hall? Thank goodness for IT people like you because even though I might want to throw my computer across the room sometimes, without technology I would not have been able to use the amazing GOOGLE search engine or SparkNote this crazy piece of work as soon as I become totally lost. So thanks for all your hard work and I hope that since you’re a tech person you never have to go through this misery like we do.

All the best,

Adriana