Readers as Friends or Lovers: Passionate Reading and the Forming of Piers Plowman.
The flexibility, inventiveness, and complexity of PPl encourage the reader to enter into its creation much as in the fashion of a “writerly text” defined by Roland Barthes. But to do so runs the risk of an erotic interaction of reader and text that recalls Augustine’s experience of the Aeneid (Conf. 1.13.21; 56). Christian literary theory aimed to encourage instead an innocent amicitia with texts through allegory. Yet PPl in particular exhibits a late-medieval skepticism over the moral value of friendship that works against any special relationship among writer, reader, and writerly text.