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The fayre formez of the Pearl poet

Sandra Pierson. Prior

Publication Year: 1996

This book differs from most previous studies of the Pearl poet by treating all of his works as a whole. Prior’s purpose is to identify the underlying poetics of this major body of English poetry. Drawing on both the visual imagery of medieval art (the study includes 18 full-page illustrations) and the verbal imagery of the Bible and other literary sources, Prior shows how the poet’s "fayre formez" are the result of a coherent and self-conscious view of the artist’s craft.

 

Published by: Michigan State University Press

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

Abbreviations

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pp. xi-

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Preface

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pp. xiii-xiv

My study of the Pearl poet owes much to the mentors, colleagues, and students who have read this poet's works with me over the course of many years. In particular, I am indebted to Robert W. Hanning, who first introduced me to Sir Gawain and the Green Knight when I was just embarking on my graduate study, and who subsequently guided my dissertation on the...

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Introduction: Fayre Formez in a Medieval Christian Poet

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pp. 1-20

IN THIS study I aim to define and describe the poetics of a major medieval poet, a poet who is a skilled and careful craftsman, who writes primarily about biblical subjects, and who explicitly concerns himself with the truth of Christianity and the problems of fulfilling God's will. Because I am primarily interested in the Pearl poet's art and its forms, I do not draw on social, political,...

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1: The Lombe and His Meyny Schene: Signs of God in Pearl and the Apocalypse

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pp. 21-66

IN THE Pearl poet's works the actual images of God Himself are rare-like the Bible, the poems of Cotton Nero A.x. avoid direct theophany, although Pearl and Cleanness offer images of the experience oftheophany (not theophany itself) and promise the beatific vision as a reward awaiting us in the world beyond. On the other hand, images of God's kingdom,...

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2: Signs of the Divine in Cleanness, Patience, and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

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pp. 67-117

PEARL PROVIDES the most visual and the most apocalyptic images of the divine found in the Pearl poet's works. The other three poems are less explicitly and less exclusively concerned with the formez of God and his kingdom. Indeed, when taken in their respective order in the manuscript, the latter three poems move progressively further and further away from visualized...

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3: Formez of Sacred History in Cleanness and Patience

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pp. 119-157

IN THE previous chapters I have been concentrating on the poet's use of formez as visual and verbal signs. In addition to these meanings in the context of semiotics, the term fayre formez must refer as well to the outlines and rhetorical structures of discourse - such is the more obvious use of the term in the context of rhetoric, and such is the primary meaning...

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4: The Fayre Formez of Pearl and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

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pp. 159-203

WHILE Cleanness and Patience, the two of the Pearl poet's works that are set in the biblical past, are fittingly in the formez of sacred history, the other two poems, Pearl and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, which are set in non-biblical, post-incarnation time, are structured according to the formez of dream vision and romance, the most "medieval" formez available to the poet.

Works Cited

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pp. 205-218

Index

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pp. 219-222


E-ISBN-13: 9780870139451
Print-ISBN-13: 9780870134609

Page Count: 265
Publication Year: 1996