Translations of Authority in Medieval English Literature: Valuing the Vernacular

Overview

In Translations of Authority in Medieval English Literature, leading critic Alastair Minnis presents the fruits of a long-term engagement with the ways in which crucial ideological issues were deployed in vernacular texts. The concept of the vernacular is seen as possessing a value far beyond the category of language - as encompassing popular beliefs and practices which could either confirm or contest those authorized by church and state institutions. Minnis addresses the crisis for vernacular translation ...

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Overview

In Translations of Authority in Medieval English Literature, leading critic Alastair Minnis presents the fruits of a long-term engagement with the ways in which crucial ideological issues were deployed in vernacular texts. The concept of the vernacular is seen as possessing a value far beyond the category of language - as encompassing popular beliefs and practices which could either confirm or contest those authorized by church and state institutions. Minnis addresses the crisis for vernacular translation precipitated by the Lollard heresy; the minimal engagement with Nominalism in late fourteenth-century poetry; Langland's views on indulgences; the heretical theology of Walter Brut; Margery Kempe's self-promoting biblical exegesis; and Chaucer's tales of suspicious saints and risible relics. These discussions disclose different aspects of 'vernacularity', enabling a fuller understanding of its complexity and potency.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"..fascinating and lively essays, which ... fully interrogate the idea of the 'true value' of the vernacular"
-Anthony Bale, TLS

'Minnis slaloms down the steep slopes of scholastic theology with virtuosic ease and rapidity. ... This ... is an impressive book that anyone interested in arguments about vernacular theology and English orthodoxy, or anyone interested in how Alastair Minnis continues to write so well and so much, will want to read."
-James Simpson, Notes & Queries

"'Minnis investigates many possibilities for reciprocity and mirroring between Latin and vernacular, treating both not merely as spoken and written languages, but also as textual, cultural, and institutional practices.... Together with the many incidental pleasures afforded by a book that is redolent throughout of its author's long familiarity with the creativity of scholastic thought, Minnis's greatest achievement here is to make this revisiting of textual cruces look easy"
-Mishi Bose, Studies in the Age of Chaucer

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781107403949
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 1/12/2012
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 290
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 9.02 (h) x 0.67 (d)

Meet the Author

Alastair Minnis is the Douglas Tracy Smith Professor of English at Yale University. Recent authored works include Magister Amoris: The 'Roman de la Rose' and Vernacular Hermeneutics (2001); and Fallible Authors: Chaucer's Pardoner and Wife of Bath (2007). In addition, he has edited or co-edited fourteen other books, including (with Ian Johnson) The Cambridge History of Literary Criticism, vol. 2: The Middle Ages (2005). He is also the General Editor of Cambridge Studies in Medieval Literature.

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Table of Contents

Introduction; 1. Absent glosses: the trouble with Middle English hermeneutics; 2. Looking for a sign: the quest for Nominalism in Ricardian poetry; 3. Piers' protean pardon: Langland on the letter and spirit of indulgences; 4. Making bodies: confection and conception in Walter Brut's vernacular theology; 5. Spiritualizing marriage: Margery Kempe's allegories of female authority; 6. Chaucer and the relics of vernacular religion.

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