1st Edition

The Epistemological Perspective of the Pearl-Poet

By Piotr Spyra Copyright 2014

    Original and engaging, this study presents the four anonymous poems found in the Cotton Nero MS - Pearl, Cleanness, Patience, and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight - as a composite text with a continuous narrative. While it is widely accepted that the poems attributed to the Pearl-Poet ought to be read together, this book demonstrates that instead of being analyzed as four distinct, though interconnected, textual entities, they ought to be studied as a single literary unit that produces meaning through its own intricate internal structure. Piotr Spyra defines the epistemological thought of Saint Augustine as an interpretive key which, when applied to the composite text of the manuscript, reveals a fabric of thematic continuity. This book ultimately provides the reader with a clear sense of the poet's perspective on the nature of human knowledge as well as its moral implications and with a deeper understanding of how the poems bring the theological and philosophical problems of the Middle Ages to bear on the individual human experience.

    Introduction The Poet and the Manuscript; Chapter 1 Blinded by Sin, Dazzled by Light: Heaven, Earth and the Great Divide; Chapter 2 An Augustinian Change of Perspective: The Incarnation and the Possibility of Positive Knowledge; Chapter 3 Part of God’s Plan: Pointing and the Poynt of Patience; conclusion Conclusion;


    Piotr Spyra is Assistant Professor in the Department of Studies in Drama and Pre-1800 English Literature, University of Łódź, Poland.

    'While Spyra has convincingly established links between the epistemology of the Pearl-Poet and the Neoplatonic nature of St Augustine's sign-theory, he has also drawn some compelling parallels between the design and thematic content of the Cotton Nero manuscript and the interests and concerns of theologians ... closer in time to the Pearl-Poet. In doing so, Spyra creates space for future investigations into whether the less-Augustinian epistemologies of fourteenth-century philosophers might contribute to the understanding of the Cotton Nero texts.' Parergon