The Gests of King Alexander of Macedon: Two Middle-English Alliterative Fragments, Alexander a and Alexander B

The Gests of King Alexander of Macedon: Two Middle-English Alliterative Fragments, Alexander a and Alexander B

The Gests of King Alexander of Macedon: Two Middle-English Alliterative Fragments, Alexander a and Alexander B

The Gests of King Alexander of Macedon: Two Middle-English Alliterative Fragments, Alexander a and Alexander B

Excerpt

The present edition of two Middle-English alliterative romances, Alexander A and Alexander B, has gradually grown out of a source-study of the legendary portions of these fragments, submitted in 1923 in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Ph.D. degree in English Philology at Harvard University. The original study has been elaborated little by little at odd moments in the past four years; the writer suddenly finds that a fitfully pursued hobby has become a book of sorts.

The poems edited are, as it happens, of trifling literary merit; their authors were versifiers not poets, and an historically- minded editor need not for a moment concern himself with aesthetic appraisals. Yet these third-rate productions of an age which can claim Geoffrey Chaucer and the unknown poet of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight should not be altogether devoid of interest to the student of the language and literature of fourteenth-century England. They are representatives of the important so-called 'Alliterative School'; they offer specimens of the West-Midland dialect; and they derive a vicarious significance from their affiliations with the ubiquitous legendary histories of the great Emathian conqueror.

Besides offering texts afresh, with some apparatus helpful for their interpretation, in the Introduction the editor has tried to assemble materials useful in various ways for an understanding of the pieces. Certain inherent difficulties concerning the origin and the transmission of the texts have led to a minute examination of the sources and language. In both cases there are questions for which the editor has found no answer; he . . .

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