Title Background

<i>‘Piers Plowman</i> B XV 417-428a: An Intrusion from Langland’s C-Papers?

‘Piers Plowman B XV 417-428a: An Intrusion from Langland’s C-Papers?

Anima’s lines about “Ancres and heremytes and Monkes and freres,” Warner argues, are characterized by the same deficiency that Kane and Donaldson identified close by, at B.15.533-69: “inconsequence, taking the form of discourse interrupted for no apparent homiletic or dramatic purpose or effect.” Their focus on alms interrupts the developing discourse on evangelism in the surrounding passages. Warner argued earlier that B.15.533-69 in fact constituted an intrusion from an early draft of the C version into the B archetype as copied by the W+ group, and that it had been recalled for further revision by the time the other B group, RF, was produced (see YLS 16 [2002]: 3-39; no. 29 in “Annotated Bibliography 2003,” YLS 17 [2003]: 239-40). So, too, he argues here, was this “anchorites” passage most likely a draft of C matter that made its way into the B archetype, but was not recalled for further revision, enabling RF, too, to include it. The fact that the lines at stake show up in revised form dispersed throughout C.17 further suggests that this loose sheet was a draft of matter perhaps originally intended for the opening of that passus, but eventually discarded and not recalled from its new home in the ur-B papers. No longer can we fall back on the default assumption that any given passage attested by all B manuscripts is integral to that version. In this new approach, many of the interruptions and confusions we have come to expect from L (or at least Anima) disappear from the earliest stages of the longer versions of PPl, but they become manifest, in much larger terms, in the history of its production and transmission. [LW]


Notes and Queries 51 (2004): 119-22.


Warner, Lawrence