- 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: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #243,506 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Piers Plowman (Norton Critical Editions) New Ed Edition
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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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Top customer reviews
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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.
The book is well-printed (though the typeface might have been a tad larger) on a good quality paper (and not on the near-newsprint that publishers such as Penguin have no shame in inflicting on their readers today). The binding is a flexible thermoplastic that should hold up to use. And the paper cover (which might have been a bit sturdier) features a beautiful color facsimile of a page from a medieval manuscript of the poem. This illustration of Lady Mede (money power) being borne about will come to have a very deep meaning as you move into the poem.
All in all, then, the Norton Critical Edition of Piers Plowman is an edition I have no hesitation in recommending. Readers who are new to the poem and who acquire this amazingly full and reasonably-priced edition are in for a very special treat.
William Langland's voice is a unique voice, a powerful yet compassionate voice that brings the whole of Medieval England in all it's color and bustle and excitement and joys and sorrows alive before our eyes.
Although the poem was written over six hundred years ago, new readers will find that many of Langland's concerns are still very much our own; the trappings or outer forms of society may have changed since the fourteenth century, but human nature itself certainly hasn't changed and life's sorrows are still very much with us. But so, happily, are its joys!
I think you will find that Piers Plowman provides us with a full and rich measure of both.
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).