Langland and Lollardy?
Hudson’s paper is a response to the other essays (nos. 1, 6, 19, 24) in the special section on “Langland and Lollardy” in YLS 17. While no conclusions, it seems, can be drawn as yet about the relationship between L and “lollardy,” Hudson believes that the papers gathered here present some responses to the more nuanced question of what suggestions might be helpfully made to move scholarship on these issues forward. The essay starts with a consideration of the date and the use of term “lollare,” which largely concurs with Cole’s conclusion that, fictions of origin notwithstanding, “the intrusion of lollard into the documentary record seems to begin around 1387– 90” (98). For Hudson, however, this means that attempting to recreate possibly nonhostile meanings and associations of that word in the absence of dateable non-Langlandian sources before 1387 is “an attempt to enchain the wind.” Highlighting the similar reformist inheritances of Wyclif and PPl, Hudson maintains her 1988 conclusion that “all versions of the poem were written at a time when ‘orthodoxy’ remained largely accepted,” the condemnation of Wyclif being the result of, arguably, “bad luck in an unusually adverse concatenation of circumstances” (101). In response to Aers’s essay, Hudson cites passages from Wyclif, whose political theology regarding poverty might be more consonant with L’s views, and suggests that Wyclif might have been more sympathetic to the 1381 revolt than Aers allows. In responding to Somerset’s essay, Hudson argues ultimately for a more strictly defined sense of “Langlandian,” by adducing a number of other texts from both before and after L or “lollardy”: the Thirty-seven Conclusions of the Lollards, Dives and Pauper and the sermons of MS Longleat 4 by the same author, Gower’s Confessio Amantis, Rolle’s Psalter commentary, and the works of Reginald Pecock. While she remains skeptical about whether the later texts evince any specific Langlandian legacy, Hudson would like to see the lines of investigation suggested by Somerset explored further.
YLS 17 (2003): 93–106.