Title Background

<i>William Langland <i>Piers Plowman</i></i>, <i>Piers Plowman</i></i>

William Langland Piers Plowman, Piers Plowman

The introduction to this short book describes its aims, as pursued in three chapters, entitled, “Re-presenting the Word”; “Piers the Plowman and the Materiality of Allegory’s Other”; “The Penitential Self: Alienation and the Apocalypse”: PPl is “built on a profound cognitive insecurity which is the product of an epistemology that describes man as alienated from God, from language and from himself… As the text dismantles connections between language, power and authority the mediation of God’s word on earth is seen to fall increasingly on society’s marginalized and disempowered. The validation of the text’s allegory ultimately rests on the authority of one [Will] who describes himself as a dispossessed fool, madman and penniless wanderer. It is striking, then, that when Will seeks to establish an identity for himself within the text he does so by first rejecting the possibility that his sense of a known self may be found within the ecclesiastical discourses of confessions and penitence… Most importantly, the poem’s adherence to the ploughman Piers, as a fitting sign for the production of self-knowledge in Will, carries with it an implicit rejection of ecclesiastically mediated subjectivity and a new emphasis on the individual as a locus for divine grace.”

Volume

Horndon, Tavistock, Devon: Northcote House, 2001

Author

Marshall, Claire