Title Background

Nonauthorial <i>Piers</i>: C-text Interpolations in the Second Vision of <i>Piers Plowman</i> in Huntington Library MS HM 114, MS HM 114

Nonauthorial Piers: C-text Interpolations in the Second Vision of Piers Plowman in Huntington Library MS HM 114, MS HM 114

The copy of PPl in San Marino, Huntington Library, MS HM 114 (sigil Ht), a B-text with additional material interpolated from the A and C versions, has been rejected by all editors of the poem. However, the manuscript contains, interpolated into B passus 6, a version of lines from C 9 and the C Prologue in a form unique to Ht and to London, University Library, MS S. L. V. 88 (sigil J, the “Ilchester” manuscript). Wendy Scase, who first identified the textual relationship between the C-text interpolations in these two copies, proposed that the insertions reflect authorial draft materials that were later revised in the received C text. A review of the textual evidence, however, places the HtJ materials at many removes from authorial matter. Ht’s interpolations of C-text material are nevertheless worthy of interest as a fifteenth-century reading, or creative misreading, of L’s original. The Ht redactor works against the grain of the poet’s own revisions in C in order to re-emphasize the role of Piers the Plowman as the text’s authoritative speaker. At the same time, he also inserts into his copy of B one of the major new C-text passages in which Piers’s role is partly taken over by Will. His interventions thus represent a deliberate, though not entirely coherent, attempt at adjusting the respective roles of the dreamer and the object of his vision.