Readings in Medieval Poetry is a linked collection of essays on such poems as the Song of Roland, King Horn, Havelok, Sir Orfeo, Chaucer's Book of the Duchess, House of Fame and Troilus and Criseyde, the alliterative Morte Arthure, The Siege of Jerusalem, Purity, Pearl, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and Piers Plowman. The connecting purpose is to open up a variety of kinds of medieval poetry to modern readers; and, while the methods used vary with the kinds of poetry being discussed, they frequently involve, along with historical treatments in terms of medieval practices and systems of ideas, the adoption and adaptation of theoretical frameworks borrowed from outside the medieval field. 'There isn't a dull page in the book ...(its) great strength is the perceptiveness and thought-provoking analyses of particular texts ...No reader could fail to respond to Spearing's own resistance to closure: the way his alert, imaginative intelligence goes on thinking and re-evaluating Middle English poetry without let-up.
Reading him remains an exhilarating experience, not universal in medieval criticism, and gives proof of the value of a generous open-mindedness towards new critical approaches.' -- The Times Literary Supplement