The question of WL’s learning, which is tied to assessments of his worth as a poet, persists as an object of inquiry for three reasons: (1) WL himself makes an issue of it (e.g., the “autobiographical” passage in C.5.1-104 and the third vision’s meetings with Thought, Wit, Study, etc.); (2) his habitual way of (largely abstract) allegorical thinking has been understood as in default of his formal acquaintance with any philosophical / psychological tradition; and (3) the view of WL as exemplar of the “popular” tradition and Chaucer of the “courtly” has resulted in a critical diminishment of WL’s art. The mounting evidence of WL’s learning encourages an appreciation of his originality and complexity of thought; his work resists any approach not grounded in the realities of late fourteenth-century England.
YLS 9 (1995): 1-8.
Alford, John A.