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The Myth of Piers Plowman : Constructing a Medieval Literary Archive - Lawrence Warner

The Myth of Piers Plowman

Constructing a Medieval Literary Archive


Published: 6th March 2014
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Addressing the history of the production and reception of the great medieval poem, Piers Plowman, Lawrence Warner reveals the many ways in which scholars, editors and critics over the centuries created their own speculative narratives about the poem, which gradually came to be regarded as factually true. Warner begins by considering the possibility that Langland wrote a romance about a werewolf and bear-suited lovers, and he goes on to explore the methods of the poem's localization, and medieval readers' particular interest in its Latinity. Warner shows that the 'Protestant Piers' was a reaction against the poem's oral mode of transmission, reveals the extensive eighteenth-century textual scholarship on the poem by figures including the maligned Chaucer editor John Urry, and contextualizes its first modernization by a literary forger inspired by the 1790s Shakespeare controversies. This lively account of Piers Plowman challenges the way the poem has traditionally been read and understood.

'A rollicking tale of how an entire field of study came to be created, or rather, fabricated ... Warner's book is full of page-turning discoveries.' The Times Literary Supplement

Introduction: archive fever and the madness of Joseph Ritson; 1. William and the werewolf: the problem of William of Palerne; 2. Localizing Piers Plowman C: Meed, Corfe Castle, and the London Riot of 1384; 3. Latinitas et Communitas Visionis Willielmi de Longlond; 4. Quod Piers Plowman: non-Reformist prophecy, c. 1520-55; 5. Urry, Burrell, and the pains of John Taylor: the Spelman MS (Huntington Hm 114), 1709-1766; 6. William Dupre, Fabricateur: Piers Plowman in the Age of Forgery; Conclusion: Leland's madness and the tale of Piers Plowman; Bibliography.

ISBN: 9781107043633
ISBN-10: 1107043638
Series: Cambridge Studies in Medieval Literature
Audience: Professional
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 239
Published: 6th March 2014
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 22.8 x 15.2  x 1.6
Weight (kg): 0.48