Harrison and Leland

James P. Carley

in The Oxford Handbook of Holinshed's Chronicles

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780199565757
Published online January 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

 Harrison and Leland

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This chapter examines William Harrison's claims of borrowing from Leland in The Description of Britain, suggesting that despite his claims to the contrary, Harrison does not follow Leland word for word. Rather, he gathers into one place information distributed over a wide area in his source, most paraphrased rather than directly quoted. The narrative is also knit together and unified by a ventriloquized voice that has no precedent in Leland. Thus, we need to read Harrison on Leland dramatically rather than literally: his version represents a rewriting of the original notes, disparate jottings in themselves, as a coherent narrative of the sort that Leland himself had intended for these aides memoires but had not lived to achieve.

Keywords: William Harrison; Leland; Description of Britain; Lord Cobham; epistle

Article.  8264 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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