By Charlotte Brewer

ISBN-10: 0511518692

ISBN-13: 9780511518690

ISBN-10: 0521024021

ISBN-13: 9780521024020

ISBN-10: 0521342503

ISBN-13: 9780521342506

The fifty-plus manuscripts of Piers Plowman have constantly posed a puzzle to students. This booklet is an account of the versions of the poem that experience seemed in view that 1550, while it was once first released through the protestant reformer Robert Crowley. It examines the conditions during which the versions have been produced, the lives and highbrow motivations of the editors, and the connection among one variation and the subsequent. It makes use of quite a lot of released and unpublished fabric to make clear makes an attempt to crack one of many significant editorial conundrums in medieval experiences.

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32 Warton relies on Bale for biographical information about the poet, and he uses Bale's Latin translation of the first line of the poem, cIn aestivo tempore cum Sol CALERET', as grounds for suggesting that a reading to be found in Crowley's edition should be emended. Crowley's text (all three editions) opens 'In a somer season when sette was the sunne'; and Warton rightly points out (in the first detailed discussion of a textual crux in the poem) the implied contradiction between a summer morning and a setting sun.

In common with the other"' ('Eighteenth-Century Suspicions', 129). 36 3 Whitaker and Price In 1813, after a gap of over two hundred and fifty years, the second major edition of the poem was published in an impressive black-letter folio edition. 1 Whitaker's volume is far closer to what we would now recognise as a scholarly edition of the poem. The difference between his attitude to his edition and that of Percy and Warton is clear: there has been a signal shift in literary sensibilities in the last forty years.

It was six times re-issued in the next century. T h e Middle Ages as Subject and Object*, 538. Cf. Johnston's account of Warton, Enchanted Ground, 100-19. 29 The early phase admission to the canon; as a poem with artistic quality, as a record of social complaint and customs, and as an early example of the favourite eighteenth-century genre, satire. Again following Bale, Warton names the poet as 'Robert Longlande ... a secular priest, and a fellow of Oriel college, in Oxford' (vol. I, p. 266). Warton evidently approves of Langland's subject matter and treatment; in a description partly cribbed from Percy, he describes the poem as ca satire on the vices of almost every profession: but particularly on the corruptions of the clergy, and the absurdities of superstition.

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Editing Piers Plowman: The Evolution of the Text by Charlotte Brewer


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