A Revised Edition of the C Text
This revision of Pearsall’s student-oriented edition of the C text (1978) updates an excellent original. The footnotes are the glory of the work; they now judiciously consider the explosion of scholarship of the last three decades. New features are marginal glosses, reluctantly supplied to meet modern expectations, and introductory short essays on important topics like ‘The Dreamer’, ‘Lollardy and lollers’, ‘Friars’, and ‘Peres the Plouhman’. The text is accurate. Its readings are revised in the light of the two fully-collated editions that have appeared since 1978, Schmidt’s parallel-text edition (1995), and especially Russell and Kane’s Athlone edition of the C text (1997) with its full apparatus of variants. In one passus (C.20) Pearsall revises his 1978 text in some fifty readings that bring it into accord with the Athlone text, whereas he does not accept some 125 Athlone emendations of either the copy-text, Huntington Library MS Hm 143, or the archetype of the C-text manuscript tradition. Pearsall terms his text ‘less “interventionist”‘ than the Athlone text, and in fact it is much closer to Schmidt’s text. Lawrence Warner’s proposals about the early development of the C text are mentioned but not absorbed into the presentation. Hoyt Duggan and Thomas Cable have made important findings about the prosody of the second half-lines of the big fourteenth alliterative poems, but no editor, including Pearsall, has yet exploited these findings as an instrument of textual criticism. The equally important question of L’s alliterative practice also has never been resolved in full and convincing published studies. Though future exploration of these topics will fund still more authentic texts, all readers of the poem are indebted to Pearsall’s pioneering work. (SAB)
YLS 24 (2009): 265-88
Barney, Stephen A.