This concise companion examines contexts that are essential to understanding and interpreting writing in English produced in the period between approximately 1100 and 1500. The essays in the book explore ways in which Middle English literature is 'different' from the literature of other periods. The book includes discussion of such issues as the religious and historical background to Middle English literature, the circumstances and milieux in which it was produced, its linguistic features, and the manuscripts in which it has been preserved. Amongst the great range of writers and writings discussed, the book considers the works of the most widely read Middle English author, Chaucer, against the background of the period that he both typifies and subverts.
* An accessible resource that examines contexts essential to understanding and interpreting writing of the Middle English period * Chapters explore the distinctiveness of Middle English literature * Brings together discussion and analysis by an international team of Middle English specialists, incorporating fresh material and new insights * Includes analysis of Chaucer's writings, and considers them in relation to the work of his Middle English predecessors, contemporaries and successors * Incorporates discussion of issues steering the perception of Middle English literature in the present day
MARILYN CORRIE teaches in the English Department at University College London. Her research interests include the trilingual literary culture of post-Norman Conquest England; the transmission of continental French literature to England in the thirteenth and early-fourteenth centuries; English and French manuscripts containing literary texts; and the interface between theology and literary writing in the Middle Ages, especially in the fifteenth century. Having published articles and essays relating to each of these subjects, she is currently working on a book about Christian theology, magic and literature in the later Middle Ages.
List of Illustrations vii List of Contributors viii Acknowledgements xi Introduction 1 Marilyn Corrie Part I Key Contexts 7 1 Signs and Symbols 9 Barry Windeatt 2 Religious Belief 32 Marilyn Corrie 3 Women and Literature 54 Catherine Sanok 4 The Past 77 Andrew Galloway Part II The Production of Middle English Literature 97 5 Production and Dissemination 99 Alexandra Gillespie 6 The Author 120 Jane Griffiths Part III Writing in Middle English; Writing in England 143 7 Language 145 Jeremy J. Smith 8 Translation and Adaptation 166 Helen Cooper 9 Contemporary Events 188 Helen Barr Part IV Middle English Literature in the Post- Medieval World 209 10 Manuscripts and Modern Editions 211 Daniel Wakelin 11 The Afterlife of Middle English Literature 232 David Matthews Index 253