Winner of a CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title Award The Middle English lyric occupies a place of considerable importance in the history of English literature. Here, for the first time in English, are found many features of formal and thematic importance: they include rhyme scheme, stanzaic form, the carol genre, love poetry in the manner of the troubadour poets, and devotional poems focusing on the love, suffering and compassion of Christ and the Virgin Mary. The essays in this volume aim to provide both background information on and new assessments of the lyric. By treating Middle English lyrics chapter by chapter according to their kinds - poems dealing with love, with religious devotion, with moral, political and popular themes, and those associated with preaching - it provides the awareness of their characteristic cultural contexts and literary modalities necessary for an informed critical reading. Full account is taken of the scholarship upon which our knowledge of these lyrics rests, especially the outstanding contributions of the last few decades and such recent insights as those of gender criticism.
Also included are detailed discussions of the valuable information afforded by the widely varying manuscript contexts in which Middle English lyrics survive and of the diverse issues involved in editing these texts. Separate chapters are devoted to the carol, which came to prominence in the fifteenth century, and to Middle Scots lyrics which, at the end of the Middle English lyric tradition, present some sophisticated productions of an entirely new order.BR> Contributors: Julia Boffey, Thomas G. Duncan, John Scattergood, Vincent Gillespie, Christiania Whitehead, Douglas Gray, Karl Reichl, Thorlac Turville-Petre, Alan J. Fletcher, Bernard O'Donoghue, Sarah Stanbury and Alasdair A. MacDonald. THOMAS G. DUNCAN is Honorary Senior Lecturer, School of English, University of St Andrews.