The Buke of the Howlat by Richard Holland

September 2014
1 black and white, 1 line illustrations
226 pages
21.6x13.8 cm
Scottish Text Society
Scottish Text Society Fifth Series
ISBN: 9781897976395
Format: Hardback
Scottish Text Society
BISAC LIT011000, POE005020

The Buke of the Howlat by Richard Holland

Edited by Ralph Hanna

Critical edition of an important Scottish poem, highlighting its striking poetic features.
The Buke of the Howlat was composed in the late 1440s for Elizabeth Douglas, wife of Archibald Douglas, earl of Moray. It is one of the great monuments of fifteenth-century Scots verse, perhaps the finest example of Older Scots alliterative poetry, telling a comic fable of an owl's borrowed feathers, his pride and ultimate fall, and a bird parliament which decides his fate. At its centre is a heraldic excurses which leads to a celebration of the virtues of the Douglas family and their service to Robert Bruce in the Scottish Wars of Independence. Its themes therefore focus on Scottish freedom, aristocratic achievement, and good self- and political governance; its influences are drawn from chanson d'aventure, beast fable and complaint, and embrace the French, Scots, Gaelic and English Chaucerian and northern literary traditions, making it of great significance to anyone interested in the late medieval literature of the British Isles.
This critical edition provides a new text, with full modern annotation and glossary. Its introduction and notes address the textual transmission of the poem in detail, its traditional alliterative form, the poetic tula, its language, heraldic elements, and historical references and contexts.

Ralph Hanna is Emeritus Professor of Palaeography, University of Oxford.

Table of Contents

The Buke of the Howlat: The Text
Collation of the witnesses
Textual Commentary


Hanna has.done the scholarly community a great service indeed. MEDIUM AEVUM


The merit of this new edition lies in the critical engagement with earlier scholarly work, and the fresh way in which the problems are tackled. . . . [T]his edition is a valuable contribution to scholarship on Older Scots literature. SPECULUM

[A] superb edition.exquisitely executed in its editing by Dr Ralph Hanna.. An essential addition to the libraries of serious students of Medieval Scottish Literature, and one might say no less important to students of Middle English. INNES REVIEW

This STS book--like all the books in the series--is well made and portable, matching the quality of the editorial work its boards contain. As he has with previous editions of medieval texts, Hanna offers here an edition of Holland's The Buke of the Howlet that promises to serve scholars' and readers' needs for years to come. THE MEDIEVAL REVIEW

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