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Exploration of the Arabic psychological theory underlying Piers Plowmanand the interpretive insights this offers.The psychology underlying Passus 8-20 of Piers Plowmanremains unexplored in its entirety, despite single articles on separate psychological personifications. Professor Kaulbach aims to remedy this huge gap in our understanding of Langland's poem, by adducing a psychology which not only illuminates previously mysterious relations between psychological actants, but also reveals that many apparently non-psychological figures (Piers Plowman, for example) are best explained by reference to psychological theory.
The body of psychological theory on which the author draws is that of Arabic, specifically Avicennan theory of the prophetic mental act, the `vis imaginativa' or `ymaginatif' in Middle English. Beyond the original interpretative insights offered by this book Professor Kaulbach also describes the intellectual and manuscript context in which Arabic psychology was made available to a late fourteenth century English poet.
ERNEST N. KAULBACHis Associate Professor of English, Classics and (occasionally) Philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin.
Piers Plowman Studies
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A valuable contribution not only to Piers Plowmanscholarship, but also to dream-vision criticism in general and, because of new facts about the imagination, to medieval literary criticism as well. Challenging and persuasive, Kaulbach's thesis is that Avicenna's definition of the imagination applies more accurately than any other to Piers Plowman; and that elements of his psychology illuminated the structure of the whole Vita... A major contribution to our understanding of Piers Plowman. YEARBOOK OF LANGLAND STUDIES