Lydgate, John

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Lydgate, John

John Lydgate (lĬd´gāt), c.1370–c.1450, English poet, a monk of Bury St. Edmunds. A professed disciple of Chaucer, he was one of the most influential, voluminous, and versatile writers of the Middle Ages. His works may be divided into three classes: (1) poems written in the Chaucerian manner, such as the Complaint of the Black Knight, which resembles Chaucer's Book of the Duchess, and the allegory The Temple of Glass; (2) lengthy translations, of which the Troy Book (from the Latin of Guido della Colonna), The Fall of Princes (from the French of Laurent de Premierfait), and The Siege of Thebes (also from the French), are the best known; (3) short pieces, including fables, saints' lives, and devotional, philosophic, and occasional poems. After Lydgate's death his fame diminished rapidly. His poetry has been criticized for its prolixity and prosaic style.

See his Poems, ed. by J. Norton-Smith (1966); biography by L. A. Ebin (1985); study by D. A. Pearsall (1970).

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