Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Pearl: A Modernised Version of the Middle English Poem

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Pearl: A Modernised Version of the Middle English Poem

Article excerpt

Victor Watts, Pearl: A Modernised Version of the Middle English Poem, with an introduction by Kathleen Raine and the original text glossed and edited by David Fuller and Corinne Saunders (London: Enitharmon Press, 2005). 91 pp. ISBN 1-904654-20-6. £15.00. This beautiful edition contains a modestly presented new text of Pearl together with an interesting experimental translation (or rather a reformulation of the original text in modernized spelling) by the late Victor Watts. I read it as a bid to draw the general reader (p. 22) into a reading of the text as they might confront a work of modern poetry - 'modern' in the sense that the poem establishes itself in the modernized version as a complex crafted text that stands alongside and in a relation to other, free-standing texts such as the Gospels, the Roman de la Rose, the Consolation of Philosophy, and the works of William Blake, all of which get a mention in the introduction. Watts's translation of Boethius will be known to many readers of this journal. David Fuller and Kathleen Raine are known for their writings on Blake. The 'general reader' (a term which must surely be understood to indicate an approach to reading, rather than a sociological category) is presented with a well-designed parallel text with the modernized version to the right and glosses in the outer margin, together with a small number of footnotes mostly relating to questions of language. …

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