Piers Plowman: An Introduction

Overview

Simpson’s introductory study is based on the B-text, the most widely read and studied of the three versions of Piers Plowman. Aimed at undergraduates, it is the only truly introductory book on the text in existence. Its structure follows that of the poem’s eight visions and its introduction situates the poem in literary and political history. This fully revised edition takes account of scholarship over the last 15 years and includes a revised and updated bibliography.

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Overview

Simpson’s introductory study is based on the B-text, the most widely read and studied of the three versions of Piers Plowman. Aimed at undergraduates, it is the only truly introductory book on the text in existence. Its structure follows that of the poem’s eight visions and its introduction situates the poem in literary and political history. This fully revised edition takes account of scholarship over the last 15 years and includes a revised and updated bibliography.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780859898034
  • Publisher: Liverpool University Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/2007
  • Series: UEP - Exeter Medieval Texts and Studies Series
  • Edition description: REV
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

James Simpson is Donald P. and Katherine B. Loker Professor of English at Harvard University.  He is a co-editor of The Norton Anthology of English Literature and co-edited the Yearbook of Langland Studies.  He is the author of Reform and Cultural Revolution (2002) and Burning to Read: English Fundamentalism and its Reformation Opponents (2007).

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Table of Contents


Preface to the Second Edition     vii
Introduction     1
Approaching Piers Plowman     1
The poem and its author     2
Langland's immediate poetic context     6
'Discourse'     14
Schematic structure of the poem     15
The First Vision: Prologue and Passus I     16
Introduction     17
Literary 'truthe'     17
Theological 'truthe'     24
Social 'truthe'     29
Conclusion     34
The First Vision: Passus II-IV     36
Introduction     37
Personification allegory     37
Mede and social 'truthe'     45
Mede and legal 'truthe'     48
Conclusion     54
The Second Vision: Passus V-VII     55
Introduction     56
Ecclesiastical satire     58
Theological themes: the reward of works-a wage or a gift?     68
Conclusion-the crisis of justice     77
The Third Vision: Passus VIII-XII     81
Introduction     83
Structure as determined by psychology     85
Style     96
Theme     98
The inner-dream (XI. 5-402):Fortune, Lewtee, Imaginatif     120
Conclusion     122
The Fourth Vision: Passus XIII-XIV     124
Introduction     125
Educational transitions     126
Poetic transitions     134
Social transitions     143
Conclusion     147
The Vision: Passus XV-XVII     148
Introduction     150
Anima-the whole soul     152
Anima and the Church     155
Anima and charity     162
Conclusion     179
Visions Six, Seven and Eight: Passus XVIII-XX     180
Introduction     182
The sixth vision: Passus XVIII     184
The seventh vision: Passus XIX     191
The eighth vision: Passus XX     203
Conclusion     214
Notes     221
Bibliography     232
Index     245
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