Allegory Hermeneutics, Hermeneutics, and Textuality: The French Lineage of Langland’s Re-Visionary Poetics
This essay is part of the forum on ‘Langland and the French Tradition’, edited by R. D. Perry and Elizaveta Strakhov. The Roman de la Rose and Deguileville’s Pèlerinages-trilogy have often been invoked as possible sources for PPl, yet their deep and pervasive impact on L largely remains to be explored. Rather than being mere sources or quarries for episodes, characters, and topoi, these slippery and capacious allegorical poems define the very space within which PPl can materialize, shaping the major themes, scope, and method of L’s own allegorical poetics. Their influence on L’s choice of a first-person narrative voice to recount his dream vision is particularly profound: rather than simply providing L with an influential authorial model to be emulated, they introduce a first-person subject produced-yet-bounded by fluctuating and unstable textuality. This tradition sustains L’s constant questioning of his poetic craft, and his protracted process of revision.