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The Shaping of English Poetry – Volume IV

Essays on 'The Battle of Maldon', Chrétien de Troyes, Dante, 'Sir Gawain and the Green Knight' and Chaucer

Gerald Morgan

This fourth volume of essays under the title The Shaping of English Poetry consolidates the work of the previous three volumes on the great subjects of English literature in the Medieval and Renaissance periods. The Norman Conquest of England built upon the rich foundation of Anglo-Saxon England but did not destroy it; thus the present volume begins with the commemoration of English heroism in The Battle of Maldon. In the late twelfth century we encounter in Chrétien de Troyes's seminal romance Le Chevalier de la Charrete a new kind of hero in Lancelot, abject and obedient before his mistress, although Chrétien himself is not an uncritical admirer of the sanctity of adulterous love. Hence the importance of Dante's exposition of love in Purgatorio, XVIII, which forms a background to the essays here on Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and the Parliament of Fowls. The volume concludes with essays on Chaucer's Knight's, Monk's and Nun's Priest's Tales, which form part of a long-term project to interpret the Canterbury Tales as a unified whole and not merely a series of fragments awaiting revision on Chaucer's death.

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Acknowledgments

Extract

Anyone writing a book on medieval literature (quite apart from the Monk’s Tale) will be obliged at some point to address the question of fortune and the philosophical issues related to it of justice and injustice. As I now write the acknowledgments to this fourth volume of The Shaping of English Poetry I can hardly deny that to a great extent I have been the beneficiary of the blessings of good fortune. First and foremost I owe a debt of gratitude to Dr Margret Fine-Davis, Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Sociology in Trinity College Dublin. Had she not so generously offered me a home for myself, my books and computer when I had to leave my rooms in New Square at the end of 2012, I doubt whether I could even have contemplated a fourth volume, let alone bring it to completion. At the same time I have been greatly encour- aged, as have many others, by the support and learning of Dr Sarah Alyn Stacey, Director of the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies in Trinity College, founded by her in 1999. She has kept me in touch with the work of the next generation of Medieval and Renaissance scholars. In the preparation of this book for publication (as for all three earlier volumes in 2010 and 2013) I have been secure in the knowledge of the expertise and efficiency of Peter Lang as publishers, especially as represented in Ireland by Christabel Scaife. For the present volume...

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