Essays on Middle English Literature

Essays on Middle English Literature

Essays on Middle English Literature

Essays on Middle English Literature

Excerpt

The papers which make up this volume were left by their author at very different stages of revision. I, 'A Characterization of the English Medieval Romances'; VI, 'Chaucer's "Good Ear"'; and VII, 'Some Reflections on Chaucer's "Art Poetical"', were printed in her lifetime and show her work in a state in which she herself passed it for the printer. These three vary greatly in style and purpose. The first is the nearest to a true essay: it is a general treatment of a general subject originally written for the fifteenth volume of Essays and Studies by Members of the English Association and printed in 1929. It belongs to the period in Miss Everett's career just before Chaucer became her main interest. She originally planned to write a book on the Middle English Romances, and, though this was never finished, she never lost her interest in them. The second, 'Chaucer's "Good Ear"', is an extended note on a point of detail, originally written for a specialist periodical, Review of English Studies, in 1947. It is the most specialized paper in the present volume, but it is reprinted here because it is a companion piece to the more general 'Some Reflections on Chaucer's "Art Poetical"', and because of the light that it casts on Chaucer's style and technique. The third, 'Chaucer's "Art Poetical"', was delivered as the Sir Israel Gollancz Memorial Lecture for the British Academy in 1950.

'Laʒamon and the earliest Middle English Alliterative Verse', and the three papers on the poetry of the Alliterative Revival were written for the Oxford History of English Literature for the volume on Middle English Literature before Chaucer. They were not far from being finished when Miss Everett died, though there is no doubt that she would have given them a final revision before sending them to the printer. But except in a few passages this revision would only have affected minor details. In the few cases where she noted her dissatisfaction over more important issues, the passage has either been omitted or an attempt has been made to carry out her evident intention.

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