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Piers Plowman (Norton Critical Editions) New Ed Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0393975598
ISBN-10: 0393975592
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Elizabeth Robertson is Professor of English at the University of Colorado at Boulder. She is the author of Early English Devotional Prose and The Female Audience and Chaucerian Consent. She is co-author of Chaucer’s Religious Tales and Representing Rape in Medieval and Early Modern Literature.

Stephen H. A. Shepherd is Associate Professor of English at Loyola Marymount University. His honors include fellowships to the Huntington Library and the Bibliographical Society of America. He is the editor of the Middle-English Pseudo-Turpin Chronicle and of the Norton Critical Edition of Middle English Romances and coeditor of the Norton Critical Edition of Piers Plowman.
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Product Details

  • Series: Norton Critical Editions
  • Paperback: 672 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; New Ed edition (March 7, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393975592
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393975598
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.9 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #381,035 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Piers Plowman by William Langland. Edited by Elizabeth Robertson and Stephen H. A. Shepherd. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2006. Paperback, 644 pages. ISBN 0393975592

The Norton Critical Edition of Piers Plowman is, without doubt, one of the best editions of the poem that have ever appeared for readers who are new to Langland.

It's great value lies in the fact that, besides giving the complete Middle English text of the B-version of this wonderful poem, it also provides, on facing pages, the excellent Modern English translation of E. Talbot Donaldson. In this way, the poem is made available even to readers who may know little or no Middle English.

Langland's English can be difficult and his allusions obscure, but most difficulties and obscurities are here easily resolved either by glancing across at the translation on the facing page or down at the useful footnotes which have been placed where they should be at the bottom of each page.

Langland wrote his poem - and it was in his time an enormously popular poem - not for scholars or students (in which case it would have been written entirely in Latin) but for ordinary people like you and me. And the present edition has, with its Middle English text plus Modern English translation, provided us with everything the general reader really needs.

But besides the actual texts of the poem, the publishers have generously provided almost 300 pages of supplementary material that the more studious will find useful: Sources and Backgrounds, Critical Essays, Selected Bibliography, etc.
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I'm a Piers Plowman scholar, and in my proselytizing for Langland, this is the book I give to all my friends and family for Christmas, birthdays, etc. (lucky them). I don't think any of them have attempted to read it yet, but when they do, they will find the facing-page translation to be accessible, the Middle English to be a fun puzzle, the introduction and accompanying essays to be quite helpful.

For advanced English majors who have read Chaucer in Middle English and want the next step up--or for grad students reading PP for a class or comprehensive exams--the best edition is Derek Pearsall's revised ed. of the C-text from Exeter UP. It has great notes and a nice user interface. A. V. C. Schmidt's Everyman ed. of the B-text is also good, but not very user-friendly.

For quotation in books and articles, people tend use the Athlone editions of the A, B, and C texts. Though if I were starting over as a grad student now, I would use Schmidt's parallel-text edition from Medieval Institute Press. It was not available when I started, and it's too late to change (until the next book project), but it is what I actually use when working with the text (and then hop over to Athlone to quote, which is a good exercise, anyhow).
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This is one of the best poems ever written. It describes another world than the one we live in-there is nothing in their society that modern society believes in. But the people in the world of this poem are the same as modern people are-and all future people will be. This poem is great because it describes in detail the world of 1400 England in a way that shows us ourselves too. This poem is not as polished as the Cantubery Tales are- but they are as important as this great poem is and as educational as Chaucer's poem is.. This edition of the poem is part of the Norton Critical Edition series- with much critical additions after the end of the poem. A big plus. If you love great poetry this book is a must have.
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