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By Charlotte Brewer

The fifty-plus manuscripts of Piers Plowman have constantly posed a puzzle to students. This booklet is an account of the variations of the poem that experience seemed due to the fact that 1550, whilst it used to be first released via the protestant reformer Robert Crowley. It examines the conditions during which the variants have been produced, the lives and highbrow motivations of the editors, and the connection among one version and the subsequent. It makes use of a variety of released and unpublished fabric to make clear makes an attempt to crack one of many significant editorial conundrums in medieval stories.

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His Observations o n W a r t o n ' s History, and Price's account of the dispute in his edition of W a r t o n ' s History, 19-24. g. , Ancient Engleish Metrical Romances, vol. I, lxxx, ccxxiv. See A . S. G. Edwards, 'Observations o n the H i s t o r y of Middle English Editing', 44, w h o points o u t that Ritson's practice did n o t always match his precepts, and cf. g. vol. I, 376. This printing of and reference t o the p o e m is also unnoticed b y DiMarco (Piers Plowman); he does, however, note Ritson's earlier mentions of t h e p o e m in his Observations o n W a r t o n ' s History of English Poetry (32).

35-58). Presumably Ritson chose this portion of the poem, from the confessions of the Deadly Sins, as containing some of the poem's most vivid and dramatic poetry. 50 Ritson has read Bale and Tyrwhitt, and presents some of their comments on the poem and its author in a judiciously worded footnote. He is aware that there are manuscripts in existence which differ from the printed copies, and he repeats Tyrwhitt's argument 48 49 50 O n Ritson's life, see Bertrand H . Bronson, Joseph Ritson. g. his Observations o n W a r t o n ' s History, and Price's account of the dispute in his edition of W a r t o n ' s History, 19-24.

266). Warton evidently approves of Langland's subject matter and treatment; in a description partly cribbed from Percy, he describes the poem as ca satire on the vices of almost every profession: but particularly on the corruptions of the clergy, and the absurdities of superstition. ' But he has not grown any fonder of Langland's chosen method of versification, describing his rejection of cthe rising and rapid improvements of the English language': 'this imposed constraint of seeking identical initials, and the affectation of obsolete English, by demanding a constant and necessary departure from the natural and obvious forms of expression, while it circumscribed our author's genius, contributed also to render his manner extremely perplexed, and to disgust the reader with obscurities'.

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