Academic journal article Medium Aevum

From Circle to Tangle: Space in the Poems of the Pearl Manuscript

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

From Circle to Tangle: Space in the Poems of the Pearl Manuscript

Article excerpt

Barbara Kowalik, From Circle to Tangle: Space in the Poems of the Pearl Manuscript (Lublin: Maria Curie-Sklodwska University Press, 1997). 116 pp. ISBN 83-227-1008-9. 8 zloty. In three main chapters (`Civilized space', `Natural space', `Compositional space, Barbara Kowalik deals with the Gawain-poet's spatial semiotics. She is helpful on the poet's vocabulary, arguing that his penchant for `energetic dynamism' (p. 46) is balanced by his tendency to frame and fix, reflected in such recurrent words as 'py3t', 'fettled', 'stoken', etc. This balance may also explain the coexistence in his works of careful formal control with detail-run-wild. In Kowalik's words, the 'circle' and the 'tangle' interest him equally. However, three serious weaknesses mar this book. The first is an inadequate knowledge of secondary criticism: she unwittingly duplicates work done by, for instance, Sarah Stanbury (Seeing the GawainPoet) and Tony Spearing (`Purity and Danger). …

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