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Folio Society Published Works Number 2617

Spenser, Edmund - The Faerie Queene Limited Edition

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Spenser, Edmund - The Faerie Queene Limited Edition (Published in by The Folio Society in 2012. 1,712 pages in total. Book Size: 10¾" x 8½". Bound in Wassa goatskin, blocked in gold. Ribbon markers. Limited to 1,000 copies of which this is number 238. Gilded top edges. Printed on watermarked laid paper. Presented in a wooden slipcase covered in Toile Vendôme, with a sliding tray in the base for ease of use. One of the most beautiful works of the Arts and Crafts Movement - a gorgeous facsimile of a piece of publishing history. Strictly limited to 1,000 numbered copies. The sixteenth century was the golden age of English poetry. Edmund Spenser burned to create an English equivalent to Virgil's Aeneid. Instead of lauding the Caesars, he would glorify Elizabeth, the Virgin Queen. Where Virgil connected Rome to the heroic past of Troy, Spenser would forge a link between Tudor England and the mythological age of King Arthur. The result was The Faerie Queene, a rich allegory which elevated Protestant virtues through the medium of a romantic, chivalric epic. Today the power of Spenser's story and the beauty of his verse still live in 'famous memory'. Rather as Spenser himself looked to 'antique times', the Arts and Crafts movement of the late-19th century looked back nostalgically to the Middle Ages. Walter Crane, an illustrator and associate of William Morris, was inspired by Edmund Spenser. He, after all, was a quintessentially English writer, dedicated to the noble aims of justice, honour and chivalry to which Crane himself, a socialist and romantic, was also committed. He illustrated the poem so lavishly that this sumptuous edition became a legend of book production in its own right. Born in London around 1552 to a family of modest means, Edmund Spenser was educated as a poor scholar at Pembroke College, Cambridge. He managed to gain work with the government, and served in Ireland, where he met the influential court favourite and poet, Sir Walter Raleigh. His own poetry, including The Faerie Queene, was written in between his official duties and he succeeded in gaining an introduction to read his works to the Queen in 1589. The Queen was so impressed with his epic that she granted Spenser an annual pension of £50. Elizabeth's chief minister Lord Burghley is supposed to have grumbled, 'What, all this for a song!' Spenser's Irish estate was burned during an attack in 1598. He left Ireland a year later and returned to London, where he died aged 47. His coffin was interred in Westminster Abbey close to Chaucer, an indication of the immense stature he had acquired. His inscription hails: 'Prince of Poets in his tyme; whose Divine Spirrit needs noe othir witnesse then the works which he left behinde him.' Each Book tells the adventure of a different knight, representing a virtue. Prince Arthur, who is searching for the Faerie Queene, acts as a common thread through the Books, assisting the various knights in their quests. Spenser wrote to Sir Walter Raleigh describing an ambitious plan of twelve Books, and perhaps even more. He completed six, which, at a total of 35,000 lines, makes The Faerie Queene the longest poem in the English language. Such is the quality of his poetry and storytelling that it is hard to think of The Faerie Queene as unfinished, rather it presents a series of adventures as timeless as any myth or legend. )

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