Piers the Ploughman

Front Cover
Penguin Books Limited, 1966 - Literary Criticism - 314 pages
Piers the Ploughman, a blending of prophecy and satirical comedy, is the great representative English poem of the late Middle Ages.

The work of an obscure fourteenth-century cleric, Piers the Ploughman is concerned with the largest of all poetic themes, the meaning of man's life in relation to his ultimate destiny. This spiritual allegory is set against a colorful background of teeming medieval life between the 'Tower of Truth' and the 'Dungeon of Falsehood'. With an Introduction, Notes and a book-by-book Commentary on the allegory, J.F. Goodridge's modern translation of the poem captures the flavour of Langland's vivid pictures and vernacular expressions.

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User Review  - jsburbidge - LibraryThing

This is one of the last major poems (along with the work of the Gawain-poet) to use the old alliterative verse forms inherited from the Germanic past for a major poem. Despite using a shade more ... Read full review

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User Review  - JVioland - LibraryThing

I read this for its historical importance. Langland's poem is a quest: How to lead a good Catholic life in Medieval England. It was a little difficult to read, but if done shortly after you read Chaucer, it is far easier. Read full review

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About the author (1966)

Nothing is known for certain about the life of William Langland, an obscure fourteenth-century cleric, but a tentative outline can be made from the supposedly autobiographical elements in the manuscrips of his poem. Born in about 1332 at Cleobury Mortimer in Shropshire, the son of a small Oxfordshire landholder, he was probably educated at the monastery of Great Malvern; he trained to be a priest but due to the death of his patrons he only took Minor Orders and was unable to advance in the Church. He wandered a good deal in England and was clearly familiar with London; he also lived for some while in a cottage on Cornhill with his wife Kit and his daughter Colette, making a meagre living by singing the Office of the Dead for wealthy patrons. Langland lived an unvonventional life, constantly writing verse, and was thought by some to be crazed. Tall and thin, he was nicknamed 'Long Will'. He died at the end of the century.

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