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