This selection of literary texts ranges from the earliest writings in the vernacular up to the time of Chaucer. Spanning almost seven centuries, it encapsulates the foundation and consolidation of literature written in English.
The volume is primarily organized by date of manuscript allowing physical context to play a full part in the discussion of texts and to foreground issues of dating, textual transmission, and the concept of authorship and audience. The traditional pedagogic and scholarly divide of pre–Conquest and post–Conquest literature is abandoned to provide an emphasis on the continuities, as well as the transitions, of literary production.
Each text is accompanied by a brief introduction and footnotes. Earlier materials are made fully accessible by accompanying translations, and the later by marginal glosses. The literary, historical, cultural and intellectual background to the period is discussed in a comprehensive introduction to the volume. Other aids to student learning are provided by a language analysis, a chronology, a select bibliography which includes sections on certain authors and leading figures, a glossary of common hard words, and index of manuscripts and a general index.
This volume will provide indispensable to all university courses in Medieval Studies at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, and make an important contribution to the debates on periodicity and canonicity in university curricula.
Elaine M. Treharne is Reader in Medieval Literature at the University of Leicester. She is the editor of Old and Middle English: An Anthology (Blackwell Publishing, 2000), the co–editor of The Blackwell Companion to Anglo–Saxon Literature (Blackwell Publishing, 2001) and of Anglo–Saxon Manuscripts and their Heritage (1998), and the author of The Old English Life of St Nicholas with the Old English Life of St Giles (1997). She is also a past editor of the annual Year's Work in English Studies.
Duncan Wu is Professor of English Literature at the University of Glasgow. His numerous publications include Wordsworth: An Inner Life (2001), Romanticism: An Anthology (Second Edition, 1998), Romantic Women Poets: An Anthology (1997), Romanticism: A Critical Reader (1995), an edition of William Wordsworth′s The Five–Book Prelude (1997) and, with Tom Paulin, of William Hazlitt′s The Plain–Speaker: Key Essays (1998), all available from Blackwell Publishing. He collaborated with David Miall in preparing Blackwell Publishing′s Romanticism: The CD–ROM and is the editor of a nine–volume edition of The Selected Writings of William Hazlitt (1998).