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Translations of Authority in Medieval English Literature

In Translations of Authority in Medieval English Literature, leading critic Alastair Minnis presents the fruits of a long-term engagement with the ways in which crucial ideological issues were deployed in vernacular texts. The concept of the vernacular is seen as possessing a value far beyond the category of language - as encompassing popular beliefs and practices which could either confirm or contest those authorized by church and state institutions. Minnis addresses the crisis for vernacular translation precipitated by the Lollard heresy; the minimal engagement with Nominalism in late fourteenth-century poetry; Langland's views on indulgences; the heretical theology of Walter Brut; Margery Kempe's self-promoting biblical exegesis; and Chaucer's tales of suspicious saints and risible relics. These discussions disclose different aspects of 'vernacularity', enabling a fuller understanding of its complexity and potency.
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Table of Contents

Introduction; 1. Absent glosses: the trouble with Middle English hermeneutics; 2. Looking for a sign: the quest for Nominalism in Ricardian poetry; 3. Piers' protean pardon: Langland on the letter and spirit of indulgences; 4. Making bodies: confection and conception in Walter Brut's vernacular theology; 5. Spiritualizing marriage: Margery Kempe's allegories of female authority; 6. Chaucer and the relics of vernacular religion.


Review of the hardback: 'Minnis slaloms down the steep slopes of scholastic theology with virtuosic ease and rapidity ... an impressive book that anyone interested in arguments about vernacular theology and English orthodoxy, or anyone interested in how Alastair Minnis continues to write so well and so much, will want to read.' Notes and Queries Review of the hardback: 'Together with the many incidental pleasures afforded by a book that is redolent throughout of its author's long familiarity with the creativity of scholastic thought, Minnis's greatest achievement here is to make this revisiting of textual cruces look easy ...' Studies in the Age of Chaucer

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