Title Background

The Ilchester Prologue the Penultimate Passus of Corpus 201 (F), the Penultimate Passus of Corpus 201 (F), and a New School of <i>Piers Plowman</i> Textual Studies

The Ilchester Prologue the Penultimate Passus of Corpus 201 (F), the Penultimate Passus of Corpus 201 (F), and a New School of Piers Plowman Textual Studies

Ralph Hanna and Sarah Wood simultaneously published near-identical essays mocking those many textual scholars who consider it likely that loose sheets of revision material found their way into the B archetype and the manuscript behind the Ilchester Prologue. The first part of this essay shows that the mockery is not justified, as the supposed counter-evidence does not exist and no other explanation of Ilchester’s text makes any sense. Wendy Scase’s 1987 argument was correct, and those parts of D. Vance Smith’s recent essay that stand up accord with Scase’s. (Smith putatively argues against Scase on the basis of his miscounting of the number of lines in the passages at issue.) The second part of the essay addresses Hanna’s mockery of me for not recognizing that MS F of B follows C rather than B in its penultimate passus, a position I share with every other textual editor and critic. (At stake is F’s role in a much bigger argument that Hanna is keen to undermine without having to confront it head-on.) It points out that he offers no evidence for his own proposal, which is not surprising since all available evidence is against it. There is no question about whether F followed B, despite the willingness of many critics to accept Hanna’s proposal, presumably because it is his. F followed B, full stop. Their mutual willingness to reject coincident variation and the logic of textual studies at large in the service of mocking fellow scholars identifies Hanna and Wood as members of a new school of PPl textual studies. This essay explicitly urges a return to common sense in our approach to such matters and implicitly urges abandonment of the rhetoric of snideness and mockery that pervade Hanna’s and Wood’s textual work on these issues. (LW)

Volume

Journal of English and Germanic Philology, 118.4 (2019), 486–516

Author

Warner, Lawrence