Earthly Honest Things: Collected Essays on ‘Piers Plowman’
A collection of twenty-five essays arranged in three thematically grouped parts, this book follows ‘no single unifying plan of research’, but instead records Schmidt’s varied and lifelong devotion to the poem’s language, themes, and contexts (p.xvii). Four essays are entirely new, while previously published essays dating from 1967-2011 have been revised and updated. Part I, ‘Traditions and Contexts’, collects Schmidt’s early studies of L’s engagement with scholastic and ‘monastic’ philosophy and his later investigations of the poem’s theology. Part II, ‘The Words on the Page’, contains essays on L’s poetic style inspired by Schmidt’s close study of the poem in preparation of his several editions. Finally, in Part III, ‘Form, Structure, and Imagery’, Schmidt offers a series of reflections on the ‘sacramental dimension of Langland’s poetic vision'(p. xviii), incorporating studies on L’s representation of embodied experience, materiality, and formal unity.