The Gawain-Poet and the Fourteenth-Century English Anticlerical Tradition, Hardback Book

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Inthis fresh reading of the Gawain-poet'sMiddle English works (Cleanness, Patience, Pearl, and Sir Gawain and theGreen Knight), Ethan Campbell argues that a central feature of their moralrhetoric is anticlerical critique. Written in an era when clerical corruption was a key concern forpolemicists such as Richard FitzRalph and John Wyclif, as well as satiricalpoets such as John Gower, William Langland, and Geoffrey Chaucer, the Gawain poems feature an explicit attackon hypocritical priests in the opening lines of Cleanness as well as more subtle critiques embedded withindepictions of flawed priest-like characters like the biblical prophet Jonahand the Green Knight, who grants a problematic absolution to Sir Gawain.  Through a close reading of each poem with aneye toward congruencies with the poet's contemporaries, Campbell situates the Gawain-poet's works within the rich andvaried textual environment of fourteenth-century English anticlericalism.

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