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A Concise Companion to Middle English Literature

Marilyn Corrie (Editor)
ISBN: 978-1-4051-2004-3
282 pages
May 2009, Wiley-Blackwell
A Concise Companion to Middle English Literature (1405120045) cover image
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
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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

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Marilyn Corrie is a lecturer in English at University College London. She specializes in Middle English literature, and has published essays on writing and manuscripts of the early Middle English period, Sir Thomas Malory's Morte Darthur, and the history of the English language in the medieval period. She is the author of a forthcoming book about Malory's Morte Darthur and religion in the late Middle Ages.
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  • Offers a new approach to Middle English literature through discussion of key topics that illustrate the distinctiveness of writing in the period
  • Examines the contextual issues that are key to the understanding and interpretation of the literature of the Middle English period
  • Features twelve essays written by authorities in their fields from leading UK and North American universities
  • Addresses issues that inform all medieval writing, as well as factors that are specific to writing in England in the period
  • The volume also considers issues steering the perception of Middle English literature in the present day
  • Accessible for students, but contains new arguments and material for specialists
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"This new concise companion engages with the difficulties of periodization but nonetheless asserts that there is a scholarly volue to considering 'Middle English Literature' as a discrete body of texts, written between c.1100 and c.1500. And indeed, this wonderfully erudite and readable volume proves this point." (Notes and Queries, 1 June 2011)

"All of the essays examine canonical writers and texts but also discuss writers and works that are infrequently taught in traditional undergraduate (or even graduate) survey courses, and this is an encouraging move." (CHOICE, 2009)

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