Langland and the Problem of William of Palerne.
Did L compose the fanciful Middle English alliterative romance William of Palerne, concerning a werewolf and lovers in bear suits? Although no one has seriously pursued the possibility, compelling circumstances make room for it. Yet the issue remains firmly in the realm of speculation. This essay shows, first, that no amount of testing of metrics etc. will help. All we have are a sequence of prerequisites to common authorship (the authors’ dialects, etc.) and the circumstance that if he did, certain problems of the ‘Alliterative Revival’ make more sense. The essay then suggests that the connection PPl forges between ‘disguise’ and atonement, both in its opening lines and the account of the Christ-knight, make new sense if L indeed wrote the romance. We might never know the answer, but taking the question seriously will result in a fairer assessment of the place of speculation within Middle English studies.