Conscience in the Versions of <i>Piers Plowman</i>


in Conscience and the Composition of Piers Plowman

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199653768
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741678 | DOI:

Series: Oxford English Monographs

Conscience in the Versions of Piers Plowman

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This chapter argues that each of Conscience's new appearances in the C text is not only related to other contemporary texts and discourses (such as those discussed in the previous chapter), but also to his compositionally earlier appearances in the B text. The changes to Conscience's role in C therefore make best sense if we simply read the versions of Piers Plowman attentively as a single compositional sequence, from end to end, rather than only in relation to the parallel passages in earlier versions. This chapter explores the wider implications of these observations about Conscience in the serial versions of the poem. The way the text of Piers Plowman has typically been presented in parallel-text format has hindered perceptions of the continuities between the versions which are most visible if they are read from end to end instead.

Keywords: revision; composition; textual presentation; commentary; editions of Piers Plowman; parallel-text format

Chapter.  12109 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (Early and Medieval)

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