Title Background

Negative Langland

Negative Langland

Argues that ‘our collective failure to come to terms with the poem—that is, terms that all readers of L can agree are essential to understanding such basic features as its form—is not a critical failure but a profound reading of the poem. […] [W]hat appears to be an epiphenomenal feature, this failure to locate it firmly in one discursive universe, is in fact a consistent response to the poem’s larger movement of negation’ (pp. 34-35). The criticism of the poem that encourages us to make sense of it in conventional terms obscures its deep and extensive interest in negation as a philosophical, logical concept and as apophatic ‘negative’ theology. Like the important apophatic texts, PPl is centrally interested in the problem of names and naming because unknowability poses an almost insurmountable problem for traditional medieval linguistic theory. This problem is explored in the poem’s meditation on the ‘kynde name’ and on the nature of love. (DVS)


YLS, 23 (2009), 33-59


Smith, D. Vance