Signes and Sothe

September 1994
202 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Piers Plowman Studies
ISBN: 9780859914192
Format: Hardback

Signes and Sothe

Language in the Piers Plowman Tradition

Helen Barr

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An exploration through language of the literary, historical and social tradition of poetry inspired by Piers Plowman.
Signes and Sothe examines the literary and historical tradition of poetry inspired by Piers Plowman. It explores the relationships of Richard the Redeless, The Crowned King, Pierce the Ploughman's Crede and Mum and the Sothsegger to each other, and to Piers. The book is based on the premise that language is a social phenomenon, drawing on a number of critical approaches from modern linguistics, theories of discourse, manuscript annotation and medieval conceptions of authorship and intention. It considers concepts of literary style and poetic diction in relation to the offical discourses of Church and State, and analyses the linguistic positions of the poems, revealing their historical and political significance. The social implications of compositional method are also examined in chapters on the use of wordplay and the employment of distinctive diction, legal and Wycliffite. As in Piers Plowman, the use and function of language is an important concern in these poems, and this study demonstrates how it is expressly related to their mission to criticize excesses and corruption in society.
HELEN BARR is a Fellow and Tutor in English and Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford.


Full of interest on, and a powerful stimulus to interest in, texts which Barr has made it inexcusable now to neglect. MEDIUM AEVUM Explores how these highly political poems relate with each other and with the poem that inspired them... her findings will likely long dominate discussion of these poems... Penetrating discussion of the individual texts. STUDIES IN THE AGE OF CHAUCERA fine volume in this impressive series. ANGLIA

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