Who is the Pearl-poet? How do ideas about his life and interpretations of his poems shape our understanding of his work in late-medieval England—and beyond? In Becoming the Pearl-Poet: Perceptions, Connections, Receptions, readers can explore the world of this extraordinary, fourteenth-century writer. In Part I, “Perceptions,” five scholars give insightful literary analyses of the narrative poems attributed to the poet: Pearl, Cleanness, Patience, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and St. Erkenwald. In Part II, “Connections,” six scholars examine connections between these diverse poems, focusing on authorship, ecology, material culture, sartorial adornment, shields, and the poet’s pastoral theology. In Part III, “Receptions,” scholars consider the illustrations of the Pearl Manuscript (British Library MS Cotton Nero A.x), the poet’s cultural situatedness in the Northwest Midlands and Ricardian court, his religious contexts, later translations and paraphrases of his work, and his medieval and modern audiences. Intended for students and scholars alike, this book encourages readers to gain a deeper understanding of the Pearl-poet and his world, learning many new things and enjoying old things in a new way.
Jane Beal is professor of English literature and the chair of English department at the University of La Verne in southern California.
Introduction: Becoming the Pearl-Poet, Jane Beal
Part I: Perceptions
Chapter One: The Dreamer’s Contemplative Experience of a Mappamundi in Pearl, Jane Beal
Chapter Two: Temperance and the Evolution of Concupiscible Vice in Cleanness, Corey Owen
Chapter Three: “Þay ar happen also þat con her hert stere”: Virtue and Nautical Metaphor in Patience, M. W. Brumit
Chapter Four: The Failure of Perfection in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight , Mickey Sweeney
Chapter Five: St. Erkenwald, Michael D.C. Drout, Jonathan B. Gerkin, and Scott Kleinman
Part II: Connections
Chapter Six: Authorship: What Does the Pearl-Poet Tell Us About Himself?, Ethan Campbell
Chapter Seven: Ecology in the Pearl-Poet, Elizabeth Allen
Chapter Eight: Material Culture of the Pearl-Poet, Jonathan Quick
Chapter Nine: Sartorial Adornment in the Pearl Poems, Kimberly Jack
Chapter Ten: Switching Shields in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Kristin Bovaird-Abbo
Chapter Eleven: The Pastoral Theology of the Pearl-Poet, Grace Hamman
Part III: Receptions
Chapter Twelve: The Illustrations in London, British Library, MS Cotton Nero A.x (part 2), Joel Fredell
Chapter Thirteen: The Northwest Midlands and the Ricardian Court, David K. Coley
Chapter Fourteen: Religious Contexts for the Pearl-Poet, Nancy Ciccione
Chapter Fifteen: Translations and Paraphrases, Kenna L. Olsen
Chapter Sixteen: Audiences, Medieval and Modern, John M. Bowers
About the Contributors
Year by year, my students love the Pearl-Poet more and more. This is the volume I have been waiting to give them. The essays address the issues that come up in discussion every semester, with fresh perspectives and updated scholarship.