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Medieval conceptions of reason and the modes of thought in Piers Plowman

Peverett, Michael David Gulliksson (1987) Medieval conceptions of reason and the modes of thought in Piers Plowman. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



This thesis is an attempt to shed light on the related questions of how we should read Piers Plowman and of what kind of book its author was trying to write. In the first chapter it is argued that feminine line-endings are an important feature of Langland's metre, and consideration is given to how they affect our reading of the verse. It is suggested that the verse demands a slow and meditative reading, and that Langland's text emerges as a list of items not easily related to each other; the reader is challenged to work out connexions and thus in a sense to compose his own poem. The second chapter is an examination of the medieval conceptions and modes of thought that are associated with the word "reson". The term "reasonable" is later used to refer to these. In the last part of the chapter it is argued that Langland's aim is to make his readers seek salvation, and that he is aware of certain difficulties with the traditional, "reasonable" approaches of other moralists. His own book is "unreasonable"; its mixture of modes of thought, and hence of the thought-worlds they project, makes narrative consistency and definiteness of argument impossible. In the rest of the thesis some of the juxtapositions between modes of thought are examined. The. third chapter deals with "positive” juxtapositions, which create in the reader's mind a sense of satisfying, but nevertheless "unreasonable", illumination; the speech of Wit and the vision of the Passion and Crucifixion are discussed in detail. The fourth chapter deals with "negative" juxtapositions, which provoke a sense of bewilderment and dissatisfaction; discussion centres on Ymaginatiyf's speech in the C text, Need's speech, and the confessions of the Seven Deadly Sins,

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > English Studies, Department of
Thesis Date:1987
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:08 Feb 2013 13:48

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