The Works of the Gawain-Poet

The Works of the Gawain-Poet

The Works of the Gawain-Poet

The Works of the Gawain-Poet


As far as the editor can determine, this is the first “collected edition” of Cotton Nero A.x. since the MS itself. It is hoped that this work will contribute to the study of the Gawain-poet in that it will facilitate studies of the whole poet, in addition to those of his individual works, will provide a basis for comparative study, and will aid in an evaluation of the poet’s development. The book should prove useful both as a reading and a reference edition and as a graduate text.

The paleographer and textual critic should approach his task with two caveats ringing in his ears, the first by a Latinist:

There are many useful jobs which can be done by men who do not
like to think. They can dig ditches, clean automobiles, and compile con
cordances. They cannot, however, become good textual critics. (Willis,
1972 :3)

The second by a Latinist-cum-poet:

A textual critic engaged upon his business is not at all like Newton
investigating the motions of the planets; he is much more like a dog
hunting for fleas. If a dog hunted for fleas on mathematical principles,
basing his researches on statistics of area and density of population, he
would never catch a flea, except by accident. They require to be treated
as individuals; and every problem which presents itself to the textual
critic must be regarded as possibly unique. (Housman, 1961 :132–3)

Having had fair warning, the editor may then proceed to plunge— not immediately into the intricacies of the text before him, but into the morass of conflicting philosophies of textual criticism which he finds reflected in the work and comments of his predecessors and . . .

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