Title Background

<i>The Cambridge Companion to Piers Plowman</i> (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2014), 2014)

The Cambridge Companion to Piers Plowman (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2014), 2014)

Whereas Chaucer has had numerous ‘companions,’ for the current generation PPl has had only one: John A. Alford’s Companion to Piers Plowman (see ‘Annual Bibliography, 1988’, YLS, 3 [1989], item 4 and related entries). There is additional importance, therefore, in a new ‘companion’ replacing (though no one uses that verb here) Alford’s, both in the fields and information chosen and in the approaches – and scholars – selected to introduce them. Cole and Galloway gather Helen Barr (on ‘major episodes’), Ralph Hanna (on ‘the versions’), Steven Justice (on ‘literary history’), Jill Mann (on ‘allegory’), Robert Adams (on the Rokeles as a ‘”Langland” family history’), James Simpson (on ‘religious forms and institutions’), Matthew Giancarlo (on ‘political forms and institutions’), Suzanne Akbari (on ‘the non-Christians’), Simon Horobin (on ‘manuscripts and readers’), Lawrence Warner (on ‘plowman traditions’), and Nicolette Zeeman (on ‘theory’ and current critical approaches). Cole and Galloway themselves write on ‘Christian philosophy.’ Missing from any direct overlap with Alford, as the editors note, is a single chapter on the manuscripts and establishing the text and its reception – a topic spread over Hanna’s, Horobin’s, and Warner’s – or one on dialect, or meter (these topics have, the editors note, been surveyed recently elsewhere and are touched on in Justice’s and Horobin’s chapters). What was in Alford a chapter on ‘theology’ is now distributed into ‘religious forms and institutions,’ ‘Christian philosophy,’ and ‘the non-Christians,’ with some attention in Zeeman’s survey of critical approaches. The book includes a time-line of contemporary events, various plates of manuscripts, and a double-page line-drawn map of fourteenth-century London indicating relevant locales (cutting off, however, Westminster, whose inclusion would force a much smaller-scale map even on the two open pages allotted). It closes with references and substantial ‘Guides to Further Reading.’ (adapted from AG)
This bibliography contains individual entries for all the chapters in the book.