The rhetoric of antecedence: Latin in middle English poetry
LccPR 311 P37 1993
LcshEnglish poetry - Middle English, 1100-1500 - Latin influences
English poetry - Middle English, 1100-1500 - History and criticism
Langland, William, 1330?-1400? Piers the Ploughman
Chaucer, Geoffrey, d. 1400. House of fame
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AbstractMuch English writing of the later fourteenth century incorporates a Latin presence. Latin may appear within the English text overtly, in direct quotation, or it may be introduced somewhere on a continuum of distance that ranges from close translation through allusion to announced reduction or omission of an antecedent Latin text. Making reference to selected works of Middle English prose and poetry, the dissertation looks at how English writers exploit the resources of both Latin and their own vernacular, developing what is termed a rhetoric of antecedence. At the level of style, the English authors use devices such as translation, allusion, interlingual word-play and the twin techniques of amplificatio and abbreviatio to appropriate elements of Latin texts and reposition them in their own, drawing on the expressive capacities of both linguistic universes. At the level of content, they identify the presence of antecedent Latin texts through various strategies then treat the intertextual relationship as a rhetorical place of invention, a place in which the authority of the antecedent Latin text becomes subject to inquiry and revision. Chapter One surveys attitudes to the Latin and English languages expressed in prefaces to English prose works of translation, then discusses Patience as an example of how close translation of an antecedent Latin text, influenced by its accompanying glosses and commentaries, makes possible the creation of an amplifying vernacular poem. Two chapters study Latin in Piers Plowman, the first treating aspects of macaronic style and the second treating passages in which the poet turns the space between his two working languages into a generative rhetorical locus. A final chapter comments on Chaucer's attitude to Latin textual antecedence, concluding with a study of literary ecphrasis in The House of Fame.
Bibliography: p. 251-272.