Annotating Piers Plowman: The Athlone Project
A response to Hanna’s “Annotating Piers Plowman,” TEXT 6 (1994): 153-63. The project of annotating the Athlone edition, basing its approach in the “textual mapping” of contemporary commentary tradition, needs also to be grounded in the versional mode of production from which the poem emerges. Hanna’s annotation of the prayer of Repentance (C.7.130-36) is presented backwards, in that it focuses on the C version and then works its way back to B and then to A, obscuring the passage’s historical context. The prayer enters the poem with the B text, in the wake of the Peasants’ Revolt, and is intended to convince readers that a national time of penitence is a necessary prelude to God’s forgiveness and to a renewal of hope for the future of the nation.