The Middle English Lyric and Short Poem

The Middle English Lyric and Short Poem

The Middle English Lyric and Short Poem

The Middle English Lyric and Short Poem

Synopsis

The Middle English lyrics and short poems form a varied group that ranges over most aspects of life to include lyrics of religious and secular love, carols and songs, and mundane rhymes of everyday life. Thus there are expressions of devotion, ethereal or earthly, theological expositions, and knowledge needed for life. The poems are disparate and generally anonymous, and their survival owes much to chance. The bibliography assembles neutral annotation of collections and criticism of the works, arranged chronologically to show the course of criticism and the growing appreciation of these poems and all they can tell us. The introduction considers these matters, problems of definition of the genre, and the isolable lyrics, and seeks to reconcile some first impressions of the poems, as disparate and slight, with the rewards of close study. ROSEMARY GREENTREE is currently Visiting Research Fellow, Dept of English, University of Adelaide.

Excerpt

The last two decades have seen an explosion in the production of annotated bibliographies in the humanities, motivated in part by the sheer impossibility of keeping up with the mass of critical literature produced since the fifties. They fill a need, felt by students and teachers at all levels, for reliable, concise, yet detailed guides to what has been written. Medieval English literature has been no exception to this general trend, with annotated bibliographies of many of the major authors and areas appearing in the last twenty years, or being now in preparation.

The primary aim of the current series of some two dozen volumes is to produce an annotated bibliography for every area of medieval English literary studies for which such a tool is not already in existence or in preparation. One of the major benefits of the series is thus to focus attention not only on those of the more popular areas not covered in other bibliographies, but also on those hitherto marginalized. The individual volumes contribute to our knowledge of our cultural heritage by showing, through a summary and evaluation of all known writings on the area in question, why that area is worthy of closer study, what sorts of interest it has already provoked, and what are the most fruitful directions for future research in it.

One of the distinguishing features of this series is the chronological arrangement of items, as opposed to the alphabetical arrangement more commonly adopted. Chronological arrangement facilitates the reading of annotations in the same order as the publication of the items annotated, and thus gives readers at one sitting a sense of the development of scholarship in the field. At the same time, the convenience of alphabetical arrangement is retained through the index of scholars and critics, which allows readers to locate with ease all items by a particular writer.

Each bibliography in the series is concentrated on a relatively small, reasonably selfcontained area, defined on generic lines. This concentration leads to a second distinguishing feature of the series: the fullness and detail both of the annotations themselves and of the introductory sections. With the aim of letting the original authors speak for themselves the authors of the bibliographies keep their annotations as neutral as can reasonably be hoped; in the introductory sections, however, they offer critical analyses of the works annotated, drawing attention to the major trends in scholarship, showing which approaches have been most influential, which are exhausted, and which are most in need of further development.

The editorial work for the series has been assisted since 1991 by grants from the Australian Research Council and the University of Adelaide, to both of which bodies grateful acknowledgement is made here.

T.L. BURTON

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