William Langland

BookWilliam Langland

William Langland

"Piers Plowman"

Writers and Their Work

2000

January 12th, 2000

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William Langland is one of the most important authors of the middle ages and Piers Plowman, one of the most challenging and complex poems of all time. Written and revised in the last decades of the fourteenth century, Piers Plowman is a dream vision which gives an account of one man’s ardent quest for personal salvation in a world torn apart by social unrest and economic upheaval. Langland’s passionate concern with issues such as social injustice, the use and abuse of learning, church corruption and poverty ensured his poem’s wide and immediate following. It also gained Piers Plowman a later literary reputation for political and religious radicalism which far outstripped the poem’s sentiments at the time of its writing. Taking into account recent critical and historical work on the poem, this study looks at new ways of exploring the poem’s complex allegorical form and argues for the text to be read as a far-reaching critique of the social and sacred models that were the foundation of Langland’s world.

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Author Information

Dr Claire Marshall is Lecturer in English Literature at Birkbeck, University of London where she teaches Medieval English Literature to undergraduate and MA students.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
Cover1
Half Title2
Title Page4
Copyright5
Dedication6
Contents8
Acknowledgements9
A Note on the Texts10
A Work as a Life: The Literary and Historical Context of Piers Plowman12
Abbreviations17
Introduction18
Narrative Synopsis34
1 Re-presenting the Word42
2 Piers the Plowman and the Materiality of Allegory’s ‘Other’66
3 The Penitential Self: Alienation and Apocalypse97
Notes120
Select Bibliography128
Index138