Langland Apocalypse and the Early Modern Editor, Apocalypse and the Early Modern Editor
As medievalists under the influence of new historicism began to uncover a density in the later Middle Ages similar to that identified by early modernists in their field of study, the reified view of medieval culture that naturally accompanied the synchronic investigations of the early-modern new historicists became an increasingly compelling target for critique. One way through this impasse would be to return to the problem of continuity. This essay does so via a consideration of Crowley’s 1550 edition of PPl. In seeking to recover the origin of the sixteenth-century tradition that offered the figure of Piers Plowman as an enduring model for understanding and examining various zones of social and spiritual existence, and to reconstitute it in the newer medium of print, Crowley’s edition necessarily also asserts a categorical difference between his present and the past from which the PPl tradition issues. But, Scanlon argues, Crowley mobilizes this difference mainly to overcome it. He seeks continuity with L in a number of ways: through the mundane historical concerns of an editor, the political and philosophical sympathies that Crowley feels unite him with L, and L’s Catholicism itself. These efforts concentrate on L’s apocalyptic vision and its penitential orientation.
Reading the Medieval in Early Modern England, ed. by Gordon McMullan and David Matthews (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), pp. 51–73, 238–43.