Salter 1962

From Whiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Salter, Elizabeth. Piers Plowman: An Introduction. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1962.

Piers Plowman has been read as a sermon, or as medieval religious allegory

we need to be more sensitive to it as art, the product of a creative imagination

poem's art is "part of a larger web of allegorical significances, which Langland can only help us to understand if we will accept the initial premise -- a potential though fluctuating richness of connected meanings" (9)

popular in its own tiem; over 50 manuscripts from c14-15, and printed four times before 1561 (12)

by early c16, was pilloried for social/religious satire, used (ironically) to support the Reformation

alliterative verse: aligns Langland with medieval poets from west and north of England who inherited alliterative tradition from pre-Conquest times, used it in preference to French metres (13); display or rhetorical flourishes, not concealment (17)

  • Langland does not give "alliteration the dominance it so often has in other contemporary works" (22)
"No other poem of the alliterative tradition combines so distinctively rational procedure (in the verse paragraph, the individual speech or episode) with what appears, at first, to be a larger irrationality -- an almost inconsequential attitude to the problems of developing and sustaining actions and arguments." (22)

manuals on preaching and writing sermons common in late medieval period; focus on balance between beauty and usefulness (Ciceronian triple aim of rhetoric -- docere, movere, delectare)

  • Langland drawing on this tradition
  • liken a well-structured sermon to a well-structured cathedral (30)