Anglicising Romance

Anglicising Romance

Tail-Rhyme and Genre in Medieval English Literature

Rhiannon Purdie


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A reappraisal of the tail-rhyme form so strongly associated with medieval English romance, and how it became so appropriated.
Tail-rhyme romance unites a French genre with a continental stanza form, so why was it developed only in Middle English literature? For English audiences, tail-rhyme becomes inextricably linked with the romance genre in a way that no other verse form does. The first examples are recorded near the beginning of the fourteenth century and by the end of it Chaucer's Sir Thopas can rely on it to work as a shorthand for the entire Middle English romance tradition. How and why this came to be is the question that Anglicising Romance sets out to answer. Its five chapters discuss the stanza's origins; the use of tail-rhyme in Anglo-Noman literature; questions of transmission and manuscript layout; the romances of the Auchinleck manuscript; and the geographic spread of tail-rhyme romance. The individual entries in the Appendix present newly reassessed evidence for the provenance and date of each of the thirty-six extant tail-rhyme romances.

RHIANNON PURDIE is Senior Lecturer in Mediaeval English at the University of St Andrews.


September 2008
6 black and white, 1 line illustrations
284 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Studies in Medieval Romance
ISBN: 9781843841623
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
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Table of Contents

Introduction: Tail-Rhyme Romance and English Literary History
Stanza Origins
The Anglo-Norman and Early Middle English Inheritance
Manuscripts, Scribes and Transmission
The Auchinleck Manuscript and the Beginnings of Tail-Rhyme Romance
The Geography of Tail-Rhyme Romance
Appendix: The Survey of Provenance


(An) authoritative study that should once and for all re-orientate them as a focus of intelligent and important questions. (...) This is a substantial study that is essential reading not only for those working on romances, but for its insights into manuscript production, regional literary culture and the literary expression of Englishness. ARTHURIANA

Meticulously researched and thoroughly enjoyable, Purdie's monograph offers a rare and valuable addition to this developing area of study. YEAR'S WORK IN ENGLISH STUDIES

(An) intriguing and carefully executed study. SPECULUM
An important work to which scholars interested in medieval prosody and/or romance will return repeatedly. ENCOMIA
A study of this thoroughness and scope, which also offers new or refined insights into the nature and significance of tail-rhyme romance, is to be warmly welcomed as a significant contribution to the scholarship of Middle English romance and to the study of distinctively regional or national developments in medieval writing. THE MEDIEVAL REVIEW

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