Medieval English Prose for Women: Selections from the Katherine Group and Ancrene Wisse

Medieval English Prose for Women: Selections from the Katherine Group and Ancrene Wisse

Medieval English Prose for Women: Selections from the Katherine Group and Ancrene Wisse

Medieval English Prose for Women: Selections from the Katherine Group and Ancrene Wisse

Synopsis

The Ancrene Wisse, a guide for female recluses in the West Midlands in the early thirteenth century, and the closely related works of the "Katherine Group," offer vivid and fascinating insights into the religious life of the time. The difficulty of the language however, which skillfully blends Latin and native English stylistic traditions, has made the documents largely inaccessible to all but experts in Middle English. This edition presents the works in a new and readable critical text that includes interspersed translations, notes, a select glossary, and a general introduction, making this volume highly useful to undergraduates and generalists with limited knowledge of Middle English.

Excerpt

After some years of teaching specialist undergraduate courses on early Middle English literature at Liverpool and Southampton, we felt the need for an edition which would make the Ancrene Wisse and the works associated with it more accessible both to students and to a wider audience. This introductory selection includes three representative works from the 'Katherine Group' and the two final sections of Ancrene Wisse, and offers not only new critical texts, accompanied by a Glossary, for undergraduate use, but also translations for readers unfamiliar with Middle English. BM has taken the main responsibility for the texts and translations and JW-B for the Introduction, Textual Commentary, and Glossary, but each of us owes much to the other's collaboration.

We are grateful to Mr D. C. Lloyd of the University of Liverpool Computer Laboratory, Mrs G. Cooper, Oxford University Computing Service, and the secretarial staff of our own Departments, particularly Miss E. Birrell and Miss C. Rees at Liverpool and Mrs S. James and Mrs N. Martin at Southampton, for the help they have given us in preparing the edition; to Mr G. B. Jack of St Andrews University for advice on the text of Ancrene Wisse Part 8; to the British Academy for a grant to JW-B which has contributed to her work on these and other thirteenth-century texts; and to the Master and Fellows of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, for allowing BM to consult their manuscript of the Ancrene Wisse and to use it as a basis for the text printed here. More generally, the edition would not have been a practical possibility without the substantial body of scholarly work on this group of texts which already exists, and we should like to acknowledge here, as well as in the detailed references given later, the extent of our debt to the work of earlier editors and commentators, and (in the case of Ancrene Wisse) an earlier translator, Mary Salu. For helpful points used in our revisions to the paperback edition we are grateful to our reviewers.

B.M. J.W.-B.

Department of English, University of Southampton Department of English Language and Literature, University of Liverpool . . .

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