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The author has succumbed to a familiar temptation. She has recast the first book of Spenser's The Fairie Queene in modern language in order to provide an easier version than the archaic-word strewn original. Unfortunately, it doesn't come off. If it can be said of writings in science that only some things can be simplified and that others must be come at the hard way because they are hard, then the same can be said with equal truth about certain great landmarks in our literature. Once started, a tamperer has a hard time knowing where to stop. After promising that the text is going to get closer and closer to the difficulties of the original, we find in Canto IX (which is late along) that the balance and clarity of Spenser's ""Sleep after toll, port after stormy seas Ease after war, death after life does greatly please."" has been sacrificed to Warburg's ""Peace after war, death after life He sleeps and all is mended."" As a general rule, the cliche works overtime in poetic simplifications and this book is no exception. Of course the reading in this form is not the grueling grind of the original, but with the special language gone, the rhythm blurred and some of the memorable set pieces changed, the greatness trickles away and a sense of reader achievement goes with it. Now that this is out of her system, the author may go back to doing the kind of book she does so well. (See Keep It Like A Secret 1961, p. 841, J-281, and The Thinking Book 1960, p. 615, J-229).

Pub Date: May 1st, 1963
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin