Response to Steiner’s “Langland’s Documents”
L probably realizes that secular and ecclesiastical documents solicit different kinds of interpretation, owing to their origins in differing institutional contexts and, therefore, assigns to each kind-say, “The feoffement that False ymaked” or Pier’s Will, on the one hand, and the rest of the documents, on the other-to strikingly different places in the narrative; the latter documents appear “after the beginning of the eighth passus,” the former two in the Visio. Also, L in C alters the significance of False’s Charter, removing “the clause ‘Yelding for thys thyng at one yeres end (K-D 2.105),” in turn permitting “Meed and Falseness longer enjoyment of their dubious rights.” He also eliminates entirely Hawkyn’s patent, illustrating the poet’s uncertainty about legal documents within salvation narratives.
YLS 14 (2000): 108-09.
Davis, Bryan P.