Coleridge’s Sublime and Langland’s Subject in the Pardon Scene of Piers Plowman.
“This essay provides a reading of Passus 7 [of the B text] according to Coleridge’s views of the subject and sublime” (155). Evans’s paper begins by considering the presence of the psychoanalytic sublime in Anne Middleton’s work on PPl and then contrasts it with the Coleridgean notion of the sublime. Evans then draws on Patricia Yaeger’s notions of the female sublime to explore “two curious moments in the [Pardon] episode” (161). The first moment is Will’s gaze at the Pardon from behind Piers and the priest (B.7.107–8), and the second is Will’s reflection upon waking (B.7.140–43). Murray’s Coleridgean reading emphasizes agency in the subject and allows readers to “share in the gaze of Will and the others at the pardon” as they apprehend the Coleridgean subject emerging through the contemplation of the sublime in the text, which in turn enables the crossing of boundaries of subject, leading to the possibility that “doing good” might also happen for “readers in the poem, in [their] imaginations, consciences, and wills” (170).
From Arabye to Engelond: Medieval Studies in Honour of Mahmoud Manzalaoui on His 75th Birthday. Ed. A. E. Christa Canitz and Gernot R. Wieland. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 2002. 155–74.
Evans, Murray J.