Three Circles: The Unity of the Middle English Pearl

Date
2014-01-15
Authors
Russo, Margaret
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University of Hawaii at Manoa
Abstract
When Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries in 1539, many Middle English manuscripts were destroyed or irretrievably lost. Fortunately, for lovers of English literature, the fourteenth century manuscript currently entitled MS. Cotton Nero A. x survived. This priceless manuscript, now carefully preserved in the British Museum, contains four long, alliterative poems: Patience, Purity, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and Pearl, all of which are generally believed to be the work of the same unknown poet. Although the poet is often deemed to be as great a genius as his famous contemporary Chaucer, his work is not as well known partly because it is written in the difficult dialect of England's North-West Midlands. Since his name is not known, some modern critics have christened him the Pearl-poet, after his masterpiece Pear1.
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