Team 7: Castle Joyous Plains

by: Calvin Patimeteeporn, Breon Guarino, and Aneel Henry

Book 3, Canto 1 Stanzas 20 – 30

From the forest, the PC is thrown into the midst of a small village in the plains surrounding Castle Joyous. Though the path to Castle Joyous is, indeed present, the road is blocked with construction, leaving the player at the hands of the villagers, who are in desperate need of assistance. It would seem as if the Lady of Castle Joyous, has neglected the villagers’ cries for help and has left the town completely isolated. Those townspeople with weak minds and souls have already left the town for the hedonistic castle of Lady Malecasta, leaving a handful of loyal and chaste villagers to deal with the problems. With no one to rely on, the town has fallen to a destitute state, being attacked by both wolves and bandits alike that emerge from the forest at night.
As the player enters the town past a rundown barn and two already abandoned watchtowers, the player witnesses the ruins of a once busy town square. A worried innkeeper is fretting over his dwindling food supplies that are continuously being pilfered by a wolf pack that has taken residence in an area of the forest near the town. Meanwhile, a small group of villagers are holding a meeting at the town well, discussing the bandit situation. While these villagers face these pressing matters, the rest of the village also holds a fair share of menial tasks that the townspeople cannot do alone. A small girl has lost her chickens around the town square and a young boy wishes that he could retrieve his family heirloom from one of the bandits.
While the menial tasks are up to the player to decide, the wolf and bandit situation, however cannot be left alone. Something must be done. Will the player pilfer the innkeeper’s store and blame it on the “undefeatable” wolves or will the player banish the wolves once and for all? Will the player help the bandits destroy and loot the entire village or will the player remain good and repel their advances? Regardless of choice, it would appear that after these events the road opens to Castle Joyous, allowing the player to move forward of his or her journey.
However, the player encounters a struggle between the six knights of the castle and a sole, brave knight, Redcrosse. The player must now defeat four of the six knights in order to gain entry to the next part of the journey, and gain access to the hedonistic castle that is Castle Joyous.

Main Quests:
1. The Road is Blocked (part 1)
•The player encounters road construction that obstructs the player from reaching the castle.
•The player must complete Quest 2 to proceed

2. A. The Wolves that Bite and Bandits That Catch!
•The player must talk to both the Innkeeper and the villagers meeting by the well

B1. The Wolves of the Forest
•In the forthcoming night, the player must confront the wolves that plague the Innkeeper
-Option A: Defeat the wolf pack that comes to raid the Inn’s storage (Chaste).
-Option B: Pilfer all the Inn’s store and lie to the Innkeeper and blame it on the wolves (Unchaste).

B2. Traveling Bandits
•In the forthcoming night, the player must confront the bandits.
-Option A: Kill all bandits that dare set foot in the town, expelling them forever from the village (Chaste).
-Option B: Join the bandits and raid and loot the entire town. Nothing escapes your wrath (Unchaste).

3. The Road is Blocked (part 2)
•After the Quest 2, the road is cleared and the player can move on.

4. Redcrosse and the Knights
•The player encounters Redcrosse and must defeat 4 of the 6 knights that are attacking them.
•The player is allowed entry to Castle Joyous.

Side Quests:
1. The Chickens
•The player talks to a young girl who seems to have lost her chickens.
•The player must collect all three chickens that are running around the village.
-Option A: Give back the chickens to the small girl (Chaste)
-Option B: Demand payment who in the end gives up a rare gem that has been passed down her family for years (Unchaste).

2. Lost Heirloom
•The player talks to a young boy in the square.
•The player must find and locate the heirloom which happens to be in the hands of a lone bandit near the village.
•Player must defeat the bandit.
-Option A: Return the heirloom to the boy (Chaste).
-Option B: Pretend you did not find the heirloom and keep it for yourself (Unchaste).

NPCs:
The Innkeeper: A worried middle-aged man in commoner clothing. Owns and operates the Inn which is plagued by wolves nightly.
The Villagers: A group of emaciated townsfolk with tattered clothing who are concerned about the future of their village with the pressing matter of bandits.
The Small Girl: A young girl with dirty and torn clothing who has lost all of her chickens.
The Small Boy: A young boy with dirty and tattered clothing with no other desire than to reclaim his family’s honor by having their stolen heirloom back in his hands.
Lone Bandit: A lone bandit in bandit attire, furs and ragged clothing. Though weak, he still poses somewhat of a threat. He has stolen the boy’s family heirloom.
Bandits: Gang of bandits dressed in furs and very aggressive. They raid the towns every night or so.
Wolf Pack: A group of 6 or so wolves that raid the Inn’s store nightly.
Redcrosse: A brave knight who refuses to succumb to Lady Malecasta’s knights and needs the player’s help to defeat them.
The Six Knights: Black knights of the Lady of the castle. Aggressive and intent on serving her.

Cupid’s Tapestry

Team 6 (aka the best team ever): The Tapestry of Cupid

Canto 6 Stanzas 29-46 describe Cupid’s Tapestry.

While exploring the rooms and halls of Castle Busirane, the player finds on the ground a small piece of an old tapestry; and upon picking it up, the magic woven into the cloth pulls them in. They will appear within the tapestry itself, though at first they won’t realize where they are. Gods and goddesses from several of the old Greek myths appear, as do three of Jove’s lovers; but, very few of them realize where they are or that they are mere shells, one-layered avatars of the people and divinities they actually represent. Only Athena, Goddess of Wisdom, is wise enough to puzzle out the mysteries of tapestry; and she and Danae are the only ones who can point the way back to the Castle for the player.

The land in the tapestry is that of a beautiful, flourishing forest; and yet, the ruins of one of Athena’s temples lies within it, and a calm ocean borders it. The strange mix of landscapes is Cupid’s doing; he has brought together people and places to give tribute to his many victories over the other gods. Europa, standing near the player when they first appear in the tapestry, will introduce them to the land they have entered; but her own ignorance as to the nature of the tapestry will limit her helpfulness. Semele likewise is more than willing to tell the player her own story, as commanded by Cupid, but will not tell the player how to leave. Jove and Apollo each grieve for their lost loves, while Neptune joys in the memories of Theophane; and these gods will instruct the player to seek out Athena in the ruins of her temple. Upon finding her, she will reveal all she knows of the mysteries of the tapestry and how to escape it, and the player’s journey through this twilight zone will end when they find Danae, who stands in quiet contemplation of her bittersweet story near the exit back to Castle Busirane.

Quests:

There are no quests in Cupid’s Tapestry, merely conversations; though the NPCs will attempt to do as Cupid instructed and tell their tales to the player, there is never a moment where the player’s hand is forced. Should they wander for long enough, the way back to Faerie will reveal itself eventually.

NPC Name Description
Jove Jove is ruler of the gods of the Greek pantheon, but still is subject quite often to the machinations of Cupid. He is a sad and grieving soul in the tapestry, which is how Cupid wishes to encounter him; outside the tapestry he would never be so depressed. He doesn’t know how to leave the tapestry, but will tell the player that Athena can help them. Jove can be found in the belt of verdant forest that runs through the tapestry.
Neptune A jovial soul, especially when compared to his brother and nephew. Though still bound to tell of his love for Theophane, his is a happier glorification of Cupid’s victories. His avatar has never thought of escaping the tapestry, though he is smart enough to know that Athena probably knows how. Neptune stands on the shoreline, next to a small dock and boathouse.
Apollo Apollo, like  his father Jove, is  a melancholy soul in the tapestry. He never leaves Daphne’s Grove, spending all his time in quiet solitude with the plant forms of three of his loves–Coronis, Hyacinth, and Daphne. He gives no thought to any plight of the player’s, instead preferring to share his misery by retelling the tales of those he lost.
Athena Athena, the Goddess of Wisdom, is the only one besides Danae who knows what’s really going on in the tapestry. If the player will listen to her, she’ll eventually tell them the way out and reveal what she knows to them. Athena resides in the ruins of her temple, a likeness of the one she destroyed after Neptune and Medusa violated it.
Europa Europa will be the first NPC the player encounters; she stands right next to the spawn point. However, she is not very helpful as she has little idea of the true nature of the tapestry and how she came to be there. She can, however, introduce the player to the world they have stepped into.
Semele Semele, like Europa, is not very helpful. She wanders the forest, and can point out that Athena may be able to help the player more than she can, but mostly she’ll simply tell the story of her death and of the birth of Dionysus.
Danae Danae, having learned from Athena the secrets of the tapestry, stands very near the exit back to Castle Busirane. Besides telling her bittersweet life story, she marks with her very presence that the player is nearing the end of their journey in Cupid’s Tapestry.
Location Description
The Forest This belt of verdant trees and grass cuts across the area, and a few of the inhabitants of the tapestry wander it. The player will enter the tapestry at the far end of the wood, near Europa.
Athena’s Temple This is a likeness of the temple where Neptune brought Medusa, or at least a likeness of its ruins. Within it can be found the goddess of wisdom herself, in a dark and quiet solitude.
The Ocean At the southern edge of the tapestry is an ocean, and at its shore are a dock and boathouse–all to accommodate the lord of the seas, Neptune. However, Cupid does not wish for visitors to swim away, and the ocean is therefore kept off-limits.
The Bloody River As described by Spenser, a “bloudy river” flowed around the tapestry’s edges, filled with the rich, the poor, the peasants, the kings, all defeated by the God of Love.
Daphne’s Grove Near Athena’s temple is a small grove where a laurel tree sits. This tree is Daphne, who was turned to bark and leaves to escape the love of Apollo; and around her silent memorial grow pansies and sweetbriars, the flowery forms of two of Apollo’s other loves, Hyacinth and Coronis. Apollo himself never leaves the grove, but stands in contemplation of his grief for them all.

Back in My Day, The Pen Was Mightier Than the Sword.

But with the use of computers (and therefore keyboards) constantly on the rise, this phrase is fairly outdated. Therefore, so us people that still adhere to the power of prose and poetry can keep up with the hipness of the times, I propose an amendment. We will now say, “The wording pwns the swording.” Ignoring the fact that sheer lameness might be worse than being outdated, I would like to take the time to point out that it is simply the terminology and not the literature itself that is outdated.

 

So, you enjoying your LOTRO account? Heck, you enjoying any sort of video game or movie or modern book that employs the use of magic, dragons, wizards, knights, or any other variety of mystical creatures? Go ahead and send props to a guy named Spenser, then. The “older” writers like Tolkien and such totally riffed off him — legitimately and in good fashion, but riffed off him nonetheless. It’s Spenser’s work, The Fairie Queene, which you have to thank for your ability to send a ball of hurling fire from your palm into the face of a charging knight.

 

Granted, Spenser himself worked off of even older dudes like Ovid. Ovid’s the Roman guy who wrote the epic, The Metamorphoses. Don’t confuse him with the German Kafka, who wrote a completely different book by the same name. Don’t confuse Kafka with Kefka, the evil villain from Final Fantasy VI either, for that matter. He’d be insulted and call you an awful vermin. But yeah, even with taking his writing from Ovid and the like, Spenser’s the first who really made an impacting writing with an English Influence rather than translating the actual legends themselves.

 

Now, I often found myself as an outlier in high school due to the fact that I could read Shakespeare. That doesn’t mean Shakespeare was easy for me; much of his writing was quite difficult to muddle through. That being said, Spenser’s difficult level smacks Shakey. I was thoroughly intimidated after reading the first couple stanzas. But once you can get into the flow of reading the lyrical nature of his sonnets, Spenser is fascinating. It’s much the same as putting on some techno music and grinding out some levels on your MMO of choice. After realizing the depths to which his words plunge, it’s no surprise that hundreds of years of literature in multiple genres can be traced almost exclusively back to this one work, The Fairie Queene. Yeah, it’s a tough read. It’s a bloody hell of a read. But bloody hell is what you’re into dark magic and conjuring demons for anyway, right?

That is soooo 489 years ago.

Ah, the digital age. I have almost every conceivable medium of entertainment available from the comfort of my laptop. I could download a 70-hour long RPG, if I choose. A movie, maybe? Weeks worth of music might suit my mood, instead. And, of course, I could also read a book online, provided that it’s been uploaded. An IT professional like Prof. Hall is, of course, familiar with this flexibility of engaging media. So, then, what value could the most antiquated of all these experiences possibly hold? In a time when we are greeted by immediacy in the form of audiovisual engagement, can a poem over 450 years old still enrapture us as it did audiences of the Renaissance period? Spenser’s The Faerie Queene provides a strong case for the affirmative.

The Faerie Queene is a tough read, make no mistake. However, this primarily arises from the nonstandardized spelling of Spenser’s time which can easily throw off modern readers. But, if a reader delves deep enough into the work, they will find that it contains infinitely more meaning and significance than even the most complex games and movies. Allegories abound, and the poem overflows with symbolism. Whereas a movie or video game can be breezed through without interruption, a reader quickly glancing over a stanza of The Faerie Queene could easily lose every bit of meaning jam-packed in that passage. References to the Bible, Dante’s Inferno, and other classic works would be marred by a patience-desensitized mindset.

Of course, this last bit more or less summarizes the underlying cause behind the relative unpopularity of literature in modern culture. While the newer forms of media require less effort to fully understand, classic literature still remains open to interpretation. Simply put, many people (IT professionals included) have been, in a sense, pampered by the relative “easiness” of movies, video games, and music. Of course, Professor Hall is on the more intelligent end of this spectrum; he is not a good case study for the average IT professional. I personally have known many IT workers (as I have, in fact, almost worked in an IT department myself as a part-time job), and I can tell you that many of them far prefer a great game to The Great Gatsby. This obviously does not mean that tech-savvy people are not as intelligent as literature junkies; it merely comes down to a learned preference.

In The Faerie Queene, Professor Hall will find a much less immediately accessible experience than that of, say, Lord of the Rings Online. However, coming from someone with the same basic preference of media, I believe that there is just as much, if not more, value in this excellent work of classic literature. While it may require more effort to properly interpret than modern culture has taught us to use on almost anything (we live in an age of convenience and instant gratification, directly brought about by technology), there is easily much more to be gained from it than most other forms of media. The journey is arduous, but the destination is a treasure trove of depth and meaning.

-Billy Bunce

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

The Joy of Reading Spenser’s Poetry

– Matt Almeida

When first sitting down to write this blog I was asking myself, why am I telling Professor Hall about my experiences? I’m sure he knows more about English than I do  as he does indeed teach the class I am in, and did he not say having read Spenser’s The Faerie Queene  is like wearing badge of honor? Perhaps he should be telling me about reading The Faerie Queene, but regardless I shall discuss my experiences. I assume other IT professionals have much less interest in or knowledge of Spenser’s poetry. Also, sorry Professor but after reading just a few cantos I have no desire to acquire this badge of honor you spoke so highly of.  

Well what can I say? Reading parts of this complex, lengthy, ridiculous excuse for a poem was more or less like slamming my head into a wall. Repeatedly. I was debating whether or not it was less enjoyable than playing LOTRO, and I think I’ve made it clear through my blogs that I thoroughly do not enjoy LOTRO. It wasn’t even close. I would rather be locked in a room playing LOTRO for a weekend then read Spenser for an hour. At least I would be able to level my character up, and that’s always a plus as I don’t really see anything to gain from reading Spenser’s barely coherent poetry.

Spencer’s words are just so hard to read and the poem is very difficult to get through for a few reasons. From just looking at the poem you can see that the English is not quite what us 21st century folk are used to. We were told it was slightly more difficult than Shakespeare, but I’d say it’s a bit more than only slightly more difficult. Granted, I have seen some Old English such as that written in Beowulf, and Spenser is not nearly as difficult. The Old English barely even looks like letters, more like symbols, and at least Spenser uses normal English letters in his poetry. But regardless the words which he uses are often beyond my immediate comprehension. Spenser switches up certain letters and spells words in alternative forms that are not always instantly recognizable. This makes for not only a very slow read but also a very painful and un-enjoyable one. On top of that Spenser uses ridiculous words that sometimes don’t even make the slightest bit of sense. I weet (apparently this means know?) some words or can figure them out but even that is sometimes impossible which is why notes are often provided. It’s not even as if I can use dictionary.com or some other useful technology as these words seem to not exist anymore, only in Spenser’s fantastic world of poetry.

Spenser not only uses this complex and confusing version of the English language in his poetry, but he also writes in an incredibly complex manner and ties in deep meaning to all his cantos. He is writing poetry and he uses a specific rhyming scheme. I often felt when reading the poem some words were forced or altered in some way to make a rhyme, further adding to the confusion of the poem. Additionally, the poem seems to jump around a lot. There are a few different story lines going on and Spenser jumps back and forth between them, making the poetry not always easy to follow. Also, it appears that Spenser was a crazy smart guy who just couldn’t find enough things to tie into his poem. After going through all the various allegories today in class I felt as if my head was about to explode. We had such difficulty picking up on and noticing these allegories and I’m sure we didn’t even see half of them. As was noted in class each symbol in Spenser’s poetry has more than one meaning and has ties to more than one thing. All these allegories were pretty overwhelming and to think Spenser actually wrote this stuff with all those ideas in his head prior to actually writing them is almost unfathomable. To fully understand Spenser’s poetry, you must pick up on and explore these allegories as they provide a much deeper meaning to the poetry. This just further piles on to the agony and frustration that comes with reading The Faerie Queene. I think I’ll go play LOTRO now. Just kidding.

I’ll Take a Stab at It

Professor Hall!  How could you have missed this!  This exciting time!  This week of weeks!  For this week was no ordinary week; nay this week was the week I called off my War on Poetry.

I’m not an art guy.  I’m the guy that scoffs at the abstract stuff hanging on the walls of people’s homes. My friends who are into that sort of stuff tell me I have to find a specific art form and try to “feel” it.  I in turn tell them to put down the hippie lettuce and come back from the 60’s.  Then they tell me I’m not sophisticated.  Eh, so be it.

I tell you this because you need to know my reasons of originally going to battle.  I haven’t enjoyed a poem since Shel Silverstein’s masterpiece Where the Sidewalk Ends. So, assigning me Faerie Queene is like teaching my grandmother how to play middle linebacker.   Yeah, you could try.  Heck, she might even learn something.  But what would she do with that information?  How is it relevant?  I originally declared my War on Poetry because poetry, as a form of writing and an art, is one of the least efficient ways of expressing an idea.

Then, after our Tuesday class, I learned a little bit about Edmund Spenser.  I learned about his inspirations: the great thinkers of our past.  Me and Ed, we share the same literary heroes.  Maybe this guy ain’t so bad after all.  I gave it a try, but found I was shamefully incompetent.  Translating Spencer into modern English after years of not practicing was dreadful.  So I developed a fool-proof method of reading, and understanding his work. Oh, and I wrote it in Spenserian stanza.

First grab a drink, maybe something of strength

Chill, grab your snuggie, prepare for a ride

A poem of virtues, but above all: length

It’s free fr’all spelling, where u equals y

Britomart is Chaste, and a knight she lies

But her Beauty pales to Lady Florimell

Una is good, Duessa is the bad guy

A religious piece, it’s virtues or Hell

And if none of it makes sense, read again. Oh well.

Wow, that’s in the right meter and everything.  That wasn’t even that hard. Spenser isn’t so impressive after all.  The War is back on.

 

-Jake Karlsruher

The Faerie Queene For Techies

So….you’re about to read The Faerie Queene. You’ve got your book (or more likely Kindle) ready to go, and then you look at the file size, the terrible, terrible  spelling, and the tiny print, and you shut that book, and decide to ask SparkNotes instead. Well, Professor Clayton knows about SparkNotes, and the stuff you get there won’t be on the test. That being said, here’s a better guide to getting you through the longest poem ever written in the English language.

  1. Reading the Farie Queene is an interesting experience, for one. The language is not quite Shakespeare, not quite Chaucer, and to say that it is not quite spell checked  would be an understatement. However, there is a meter to the words, and once you get the hang of it, the road to understanding what Spenser is trying to tell you is only marginally bumpy. Reading aloud works; it slows you down so you have time to understand one line before reading the next. The footnotes and word replacements help too, even if they mess up your reading rhythm.
  2. Now that you can read the words, it’s time to figure out what you’re reading, and trust me, it’s about as far away from C++ as you can get. The Faerie Queene is, on the surface, a poem and a story, but a heavily allegorical one that uses characters, places, and events (sometimes not so subtly, either) to impart messages. Spenser’s messages are mostly concerned with the nature and different facets of virtue, along with praising Elizabeth I far too much for her own good. He’ll often link events in his stories back to classical mythology, but doesn’t always make the connection obvious. For example, the impregnation of Chrysogene, mother of Belphoebe and Amoret, takes place via a ray of sunshine, which connects her to both the Virgin Mary and Danae, a figure from Greek mythology who experienced the same thing. Or, take this allegorical chain of symbols for Elizabeth: Belpheobe’s name comes from Diana, the chaste warrior maiden, who is goddess of the moon, another name for which is Cynthia, which is a name Sir Walter Raleigh sometimes used for Elizabeth–so really, Belphoebe = Elizabeth I! Does this seem convoluted to you? Well, too bad. Spenser’s audience, the Renaissance-educated nobility of England, expected stuff like this in everything they read: deeper meanings, double, triple and quadruple connections, and thin or complex metaphors were searched for in nearly every word an author wrote. Spenser did not disappoint on this expectation, and as a result there are still books and dissertations and whatnot being published on him today.
  3. Feeling a bit overwhelmed? Go on, open up SparkNotes. It’s ok, I won’t tell Professor Clayton. Now, read the canto summary. Doesn’t that feel just great? You’re reading modern, spellchecked English words written by someone who is still alive. AND you know what’s going on in the canto, which means it’s time to close that lovely Mozilla window and return to the Kindle. Getting a summary before you do the reading can be useful; when a new character appears out of the blue or something new happens, you’re not totally thrown by trying to process all of the story events, allegories, and language at the same time. Since you are pre-informed, you can focus on the language itself and the more nuanced bits in the plotline.  Just be sure to keep an eye peeled! There’s way more to the poem than can be covered by a single page summary, even if it is on SparkNotes.
  4. Lastly, enjoy yourself. If you sit there and make the reading a drudgery, it will be one. Instead, picture the forest, or Britomart saving the Redcrosse Knight, like a movie, or even think about how awesome  different scenes might look when remediated to the Faerie Queene Online game. If you can engage yourself and take an interest in what’s happening, then you don’t need any other advice.

Dacia

Spenser for Dummies

Viciously, wrathfully, they descended upon him, surrounding him on all sides. Weariness began to spread through his aching arms, and the breath came from his mouth in short, shallow spurts, but he refused to give up. Blood gushing from his sides, he continued to deftly deal blows onto his attackers. Every time he made a move, wreaking a storm of violent wrath in his wake, they recoiled, death flashing before their eyes.

Now, we will read another account of this same incident, rendered in a different style:

“Mainly they all attonce upon him laid,

And sore beset on every side around,

That nigh he breathless grew, yet nought dismaid,

Ne ever to the yielded foot of ground

All had he lost much bloud through many a wound

But stoutly dealt his blowes, and every way

To which he turned in his wrathfull stound,

Made them recoile, and fly from dred decay,

That none of all sixe before, him durst assay.”

The second passage, an excerpt from Spenser’s The Faerie Queene, is wrought in a style so eloquent, so timeless, that it defies replication. It is a relic of a beautiful, long-forgotten way of speaking that has all but disappeared, erased by centuries of linguistic upheavals and sullied by the informality of modern slang.

But there’s one little problem: what, exactly, is Spenser trying to say???

There’s no doubt about it: in terms of sheer readability, the first passage wins hands-down. However beautiful Spenser’s prose may be, it’s not exactly ideal for your typical lounge-on-the-beach or curl-up-by-the-fireplace sort of book. Reading the The Faerie Queene is no light endeavor. I’m not just referring to the fact that the poem is of mammoth proportions, as large and as cumbersome as a high school science textbook. Rather, the biggest challenge reading Spenser lies in achieving basic comprehension. Slowly, painstakingly, the reader is forced to trudge through line after line of archaic Old English, struggling to uncover meaning somewhere within that jumbled heap of peculiarly-spelled words and outdated vocabulary (um, since when does “yode” mean “went”?). Even with a handy vocabulary bank, I still often find it necessary to stop and re-read (and even re-re-read) certain stanzas just to figure out what the heck is going on.

In this sense, The Faerie Queene, although undeniably eloquent, doesn’t exactly engage or immerse the reader as much as, say, Harry Potter would. In my opinion, reading Spenser feels more like piecing together a puzzle or solving a math problem than anything else; I spend too much time fumbling over the language to become fully engrossed in the storyline. But this could be because I am a decidedly right-brained individual who cowers at the idea of basic math computation. Discerning codes and patterns was always my demise on the Math portion of the SAT. Sudoku? No thank you.

On the other hand, someone like an ITS programmer—someone who is science-oriented and familiar with the complex language of computer processing—might gladly accept the challenge of decoding the bewildering, quirky language of The Faerie Queene. Aided with a math and science background, such a person would be more adept at picking up on the subtle nuances and patterns of Old English than a math wimp like me. Surely, if you are able to read binary code, decoding Spenser will be a breeze.

So, Professor Hall, perhaps you could be persuaded to take pity on a math-and-puzzle-challenged soul and make another one your impressive educational YouTube videos, this time entitled “Spenser for Dummies.”

-Anna Dickens

To Matthew Hall, or Whom it May Concern:

I am writing to inform the relevant parties that while attempting to peruse Edmund Spenser’s “The Faerie Queene”, a work reproduced and remediated by Vanderbilt University for the use of its students in its English 115F “Worlds of Wordcraft” seminar, I found numerous errors that make the work incredibly hard to read and therefore difficult to utilize.  This difficulty ultimately lead to the spending of more time than necessary reading what this university seemingly deems “a poem”.  The time lost by Tyler Gilcrest U.G.S. (Undergraduate Student) relates directly to future dollars and cents in an exponential, but indeterminate, relationship (fig. A) and is due to the fact that he was forced to spend undue amounts of time with your organization’s product.

Fig. A

One error encountered during the use of your product was the presence of numerous and grievous spelling errors.  Spellings such as “gealous”, “farre” and “raine” (for the word “reign”, not “rain”, mind you) are clearly gross oversights in your efforts for remediation for the use of Vanderbilt students such as my client.  one particularly atrocious example, “dreryhedd”, can only be speculated as to its actual meaning.  Not only do such examples occur, but they do so with such egregious abundance that it begs us to question who you employ for editing service, or whether you request that he take off his winter gloves when he types.  Such simple errors like said spelling errors reflects poorly on your efforts at this remediation.

Another problem with the product lies in the sheer length of the remediation.  The work is supposed to be a “poem”.   A poem implies a short work of fiction.  However this published version is longer than most novels.  In fact, our research indicates that this is the longest poem in the English language.  The length of this poem severely increases the amount of reading time.  And much of the excess is merely fluff.  The first stanza of Book III, Canto I, for instance, can be summarized the following way:  “The Briton Prince and Fairy Knight rested and were healed so that they could continue their adventures”.  Instead the author decides to take an inordinate amount of lines to explain this simple statement.  Again, the amount of money this has cost my client is inexcusable.

The following are suggestions to improve the remediation of the product so as to make it a more efficient and therefore desirable read:

  1. Use spell check.  This functionality comes in most modern word processors.  Comprehension of the material increases greatly with such a tool.
  2. Use a different format other than portable document format.  Not only does this limit the amount of mutability in remediation but it also limits the ability to perform suggestion 1.
  3. Fire your editor.
  4. Shorten the length of the work, add some visuals and/or vibrant flash animation, and make sure the final product can be understood by most 11th grade students.  Tyler Gilcrest cannot be bothered to think over allusions, archaic constructs or difficult vocabulary words.

With these changes implemented, both parties will undoubtedly be happier.  Any questions, comments or concerns can be returned along with explanation to this office and will be forwarded accordingly to Tyler Gilcrest U.G.S.  We appreciate your future compliance.

Regards,

Samuel Thompson

Office of Wrongly Assigned Students

Thompson and French P.A.