The Early Reception of Chaucer and Langland.
This essay explores the fundamental differences between the early reception of Chaucer and L. Among the connections between the two is the link in sites of production (i.e., the metropolis) of both alliterative and Chaucer’s poetry. The joint influence of Chaucer and L is found in Thomas Usk and the fifteenth-century romance The Sowdone of Babylone; San Marino, Huntington Library MS Hm 114 contains both PPl and Troilus and Criseyde; and a few wills refer to works of both authors. But such instances are atypical. The ‘PPl‘ tradition as defined by Barr reflects very different forms of appropriation from those evidenced by Chaucer’s early followers, but the exact nature of the influence of PPl upon this ‘tradition’ remains unclear. The ownership of PPl manuscripts to some degree confirms the connection to the metropolis, but in other respects L’s audience differs markedly from that of Chaucer: most readers were in provincial religious circles, and few were women. Readers’ marginal annotations and scribes’ active participation provide further areas of comparison. In the sixteenth century occurred the merging of the vestigial PPl tradition with the dominant Chaucerian one, in which both poets are seen as Wycliffite. Thus ends the significant reception of L’s poem. Only in the later twentieth century has L been permitted to stand as a figure of comparable significance to Chaucer.
Florilegium, 15 (1998), 1-22.
Edwards, A. S. G.