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The poetry we call 'alliterative' is recorded in English from the seventh century until the sixteenth, and includes Caedmon's 'Hymn', Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and Piers Plowman. These are some of the most admired works of medieval English literature, and also among the most enigmatic. The formal practice of alliterative poets exceeded the conceptual grasp of medieval literary theory; theorists are still playing catch-up today. This book explains the distinctive nature of alliterative meter, explores its differences from subsequent accentual-syllabic forms, and advances a reformed understanding of medieval English literary history. The startling formal variety of Piers Plowman and other Middle English alliterative poems comes into sharper focus when viewed in diachronic perspective: the meter was in transition; to understand it, we need to know where it came from and where it was headed at the moment it died out.Read more
- Provides accessible descriptions of the verse-form of specific works thereby communicating specialist literature to a wider scholarly readership
- Builds on recent scholarship by examining alliterative poems that have hitherto not received due attention
- Proposes a new perspective on alliterative meter by placing the poetic form in a long historical context
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- Date Published: September 2017
- format: Hardback
- isbn: 9781107154100
- length: 234 pages
- dimensions: 235 x 158 x 18 mm
- weight: 0.48kg
- availability: In stock
Table of Contents
Introduction: what was alliterative poetry?
1. An unwritten medieval treatise
2. The accentual paradigm in early English metrics
3. The origins of the alliterative revival
4. The fourteenth-century meter
5. The end of alliterative verse
Epilogue: Edmund Spenser's poetry lesson.
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