Lies Slander, Slander, and Obscenity in Medieval English Literature. Pastoral Rhetoric and the Deviant Speaker
An examination of how deviant types of speech are constructed by scholastic moral theology. In Patience, Confessio Amantis, PPl, and the Parson’s Tale, the pastoral figure promotes an alternative to the deviant word, as well as a remedy for it. In PPl, Will uses pastoral rhetoric to move the patrons of minstrels to the moral self-knowledge and contrition the entertainers have dulled. The “amendment of life” he proposes—excluding the deviant speakers from social life, especially from the halls of clerical and lay lords, and listening, in their place, to Scripture—lies in pastoral chapters on turpiloquium and scurrilitas, especially their biblical leitmotif, Paul’s “let not . . . so much as be named among you . . . obscenity or foolish talking or scurrility” (Eph. 5:3-4).
Rev. H[eather] O’D[onoghue], TLS November 28, 1997: 24; Siegfried Wenzel, N&Q 45 (1998): 106-07; J. Blythe, MP 99.1 (2001): 80-87; D. Lawton, MAE 68.1 (1999): 127-28; K. L. Lynch, Speculum 74 (1999): 398-400; Joan Blythe, YLS 13 (1999): 220-27.