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'Truthe is the beste'

A Festschrift in Honour of A.V.C. Schmidt


Edited By Nicolas Jacobs and Gerald Morgan

The thirteen essays in this book, presented in honour of Dr A.V.C. (Carl) Schmidt, are designed to reflect the range of his interests. Dr Schmidt, who was a Fellow at Balliol College, Oxford from 1972 until his retirement in 2011, is best known for his comprehensive four-text edition of Piers Plowman, the fruit of a lifetime’s work on that text. He has also made a major contribution to the study of Chaucer and the medieval English contemplatives, and these authors also find a place in this collection. The essays presented here are intended to build upon the legacy of Carl Schmidt’s exemplary scholarship.
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Dame Study’s Anatomical Curse: A Scatological Parody?



The second recension of Deguileville’s Pèlerinage de la vie humaine (known as Vie 2), a poem much indebted to the Roman de la Rose and other allegorical pilgrimages towards knowledge and salvation, was produced between 1355 and 1358.1 It seems to have been intended for a more learned and clerical audience than the first recension (Vie 1, produced around 1331), and more explicitly identifies its narrative voice as contemplative in orientation.2 It is notable for the addition of Latin paraphrases of core teachings and prayers of the Church, and for a less tolerant attitude towards the Roman than displayed in Vie 1.3 Its nine copies (though far fewer in number than the first version) are notable for the learned Latin marginalia that many of them attracted and generated: there are many citations from Scripture added in the margins of Vérard’s Paris 1511 printed edition, for example.4 Vie 2 adds a complex scene where the pilgrim receives an exposition of the Eucharist from his interlocutor, Grace Dieu, and an extended allegorical rumination about the modes of perception most effective in matters of Faith. The guide’s name reveals that she is speaking with visionary authority, and bringing revelatory knowledge and understanding that transcend the normal sensory and intellective abilities of the dreamer: ‘al thy wyttys in no wyse/Koude teche the the guyse/of thys vnkouthe pryvyte’ (PLM, 6285–6, in the c.1426 verse translation most probably by John Lydgate).5 The Eucharistic mystery of the...

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