This volume brings together a selection of lectures and essays in which J.A. Burrow discusses the work of English poets of the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries: Chaucer, Gower, Langland, and Hoccleve, as well as the anonymous authors of Pearl, Saint Erkenwald, and a pair of metrical romances. Six of the pieces address general issues, with some reference to French and Italian writings ('Autobiographical Poetry in the Middle Ages', for example, or 'The Poet and the Book'); but most of them concentrate on particular English poems, such as Chaucer's Envoy to Scogan, Gower's Confessio Amantis, Langland's Piers Plowman, and Hoccleve's Series. Although some of the essays take account of the poet's life and times ('Chaucer as Petitioner', 'Hoccleve and the 'Court''), most are mainly concerned with the meaning and structure of the poems. What, for example, does the hero of Ipomadon hope to achieve by fighting, as he always does, incognito? Why do the stories in Piers Plowman all peter out so inconclusively? And how can it be that the narrator in Chaucer's Book of the Duchess so persistently fails to understand what he is told?
'What medievalist would not want to have readily available a collection of twenty-three essays by John A. Burrow, the unerringly discerning critic of Ricardian poetry?' Modern Language Review
Contents: Thinking in poetry: three medieval examples; The poet and the book; The sinking island and the dying author: R.W. Chambers 50 years on; The languages of medieval England; Autobiographical poetry in the Middle Ages: the case of Thomas Hoccleve; Poems without endings; Politeness and privacy: Chaucer's Book of the Duchess; Vituperations in Chaucer's poetry; Chaucer's Sir Thopas and La Prise de Nuevile; Chaucer as petitioner: three poems; The poetry of Amans in Confessio Amantis; Gower's poetic styles; The endings of stories in Piers Plowman; Lady Meed and the power of money; God and the fullness of time in Piers Plowman; The old and new ploughs in Piers Plowman; Hoccleve and the 'court'; Hoccleve and the Middle French poets; An 18th-century edition of Hoccleve; Hoccleve's questions: intonation and punctuation; The 14th-century Arthur; The Avowing of King Arthur; The uses of incognito: Ipomadon A; Index.
The first title in the Variorum Collected Studies series was published in 1970. Since then well over 1000 titles have appeared in the series, and it has established a well-earned international reputation for the publication of key research across a whole range of subjects within the fields of history.
The history of the medieval world remains central to the series, with Byzantine studies a particular speciality, but the range of titles extends from Hellenistic philosophy and the history of the Roman empire and early Christianity, through the Renaissance and Reformation, up to the 20th century. Islamic Studies forms another major strand as do the histories of science, technology and medicine.
Each title in the Variorum Collected Studies series brings together for the first time a selection of articles by a leading authority on a particular subject. These studies are reprinted from a vast range of learned journals, Festschrifts and conference proceedings. They make available research that is scattered, even inaccessible in all but the largest and most specialized libraries. With a new introduction and index, and often with new notes and previously unpublished material, they constitute an essential resource.
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