The Chester Mystery Cycle: Essays and Documents

By R. M. Lumiansky; David Mills | Go to book overview
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2.

CONCERNING
SOURCES, ANALOGUES,
AND AUTHORITIES

T H E CHAPTER THAT F O L L O W S is in two sections. The first is essentially a review of the various "immediate sources and influences" that have been proposed by earlier critics for the Chester cycle, with some small additions and comments. The second deals with the wider issue of the evocation of authorities within the cycle.


Immediate Sources and Influences

We agree with the assumption that the understanding of the composition and the meaning of a text is significantly extended by comparing it with a work on which the author drew directly while writing the text. The immediate source may well provide valuable external evidence concerning the author of a text and its date of composition. We resist, however, any automatic assumption in connection with the Chester cycle that a series of immediate sources would necessarily correspond to a series of independent revisions and hence mark out different chronological "strata" in the development of the text.

In considering the sources of the Chester cycle we are conscious that much of the material was familiar, being biblical, liturgical, or legendary, and that it had been transmitted in a variety of forms over a prolonged

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