The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Blanch, Robert J. "Supplement to the Gawain-Poet: An Annotated Bibliography, 1978-1985." 25 (1991): 363-86.
This bibliography fills the need of medievalists for a more complete bibliography of criticism on Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, Purity, and Patience.
Donner, Morton. "A Grammatical Perspective on Word Play in Pearl." 22 (1988): 322-31.
The Pearl-Poet uses adverbs, particularly flat adverbs, identical in form to adjectives in order to create multiple levels of word play in Pearl. The energy created by this construction is frequently linked to the gulf between the dreamer and the maiden.
Donner, Morton. "Word Play and Word Form in Pearl." 24 (1989): 166-82.
The Pearl-Poet uses word play to create the experience of dualism for the reader in such a way that the form of the poem expresses its content. The poet accomplishes this dualism through lexical repetition and word clustering. He uses different lexical forms to provide an image of completeness. Link-words allow for the poet to create the experience of dualism within the language of the text. The writer uses the suffixes "-less" and "-ful" to indicate their opposites. Most "-less" words express positive qualities and most "-ful" words show improper excess. All in all, the Pearl-Poet shows great lexical artistry.
O'Mara, Philip F. "Robert Holcot's 'Ecumenism' and the Green Knight." 26 (1992): 329-42.
Holcot's works and theology deeply affect the works of the Pearl-Poet. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight contains both piety and revels and is built around paradoxical characters and events. Though Bercilak is a pagan, the poet seems to suggest that he is "in the way of salvation" (333). Holcot and other fourteenth-century theologians argued about how good deeds related to the salvation of the unsaved. Holcot believed that God could grant salvation to someone who was not baptized as did mystics like Walter Hilton and Julian of Norwich who held similar and sometimes stronger views of God's love. Both Patience and Pearl deal with salvation of the unsaved or the untaught, as does St. Erkenwald, another poem of the alliterative revival.
Olmert, Michael. "Game-Playing, Moral Purpose, and the Structure of Pearl." 21 (1987): 383-403.
In order to demonstrate that humans always seek happiness but never fully attain it, the Pearl-Poet shapes Pearl as a race-game, a type of board game. (Medieval board games often had underlying scriptural messages.) The 101 stanzas are divided into two groups of 50 mirroring each other; stanza 51 connects the two halves. Within each half, there are ten sub-groups connected by word repetition. The poet sets up a pearl, God's grace, as the stake of the game. The Pearl-maiden teaches childlike innocence to each reader/ player.
Petroff, Elizabeth. "Landscape in Pearl: The Transformation of Nature." 16 (1981): 181-93.
Nature in Pearl embodies the inner emotional and mental life of people. In the first garden the poet departs from traditional nature imagery by setting Pearl in August, by filling the garden with plants useful for healing, by removing order from the garden, and by showing no direct water source. Images of lush paradise are here connected to harvest and death. The second garden has a more timeless beauty compared to the first, is primarily white in color, and has transforming powers. The narrator's vision ends as he mistakes the spiritual and the physical, and he returns to the earthly garden to work it in order eventually to gain heaven.
Phillips, Helen. "Structure and Consolation in the Book of the Duchess." 16 (1981): 107-18.
Readers' interpretations of the consolation in the Book of the Duchess rest on how they read the other parts of the poem. To readers, the work presents four parallel structures in the man in black's tale, Alcyone's story, the narrator's own situation, and the hunt. Many medieval works, both of art and literature, employ form to add to meaning. The Second Shepherd's Play, Pearl, and Piers Plowman use such typological imagery. Three of the four instances of parallelism in the Book of the Duchess end with the loss of a beloved object, but the man in black's tale seems to extend into the consolation. The reference to "Octavian" (368) probably denotes the story of Octavian and Sibyl. Careful analysis of this story may suggest an additional parallel to other situations in the poem. Finally, the Book of the Duchess demands that humans come to terms with mortality, but that mortality does not invalidate love.
Reed, Thomas L., Jr. "'Bo[th]e blysse and blunder': Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and the Debate Tradition." 23 (1988): 140-61.
The Pearl-Poet built Sir Gawain and the Green Knight on a dialogic structure that suggests the poem's affinities with the debate tradition. That the poet does not reach any real conclusions does not disqualify the poem as a debate, since many debate poems do not reach resolution. The poet presents events from many angles. Gawain's use of various magical defensive devices suggests a dialogue between chivalry and Christianity. Given sources and analogues like the Owl and the Nightingale, Winner and Waster, the "Flyting of Dunbar and Kennedie," the Parliament of the Three Ages, and Ressoning betuix Age and Yowth, readers may see the poem as a series of arguments between youth and age, spring and winter, life and death. Gawain's experience with Lady Bercilak brings to mind the débat amoreux. Gawain is also tried in verbal argument. Other poems grouped with Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, and Patience, show similar debate structures. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is most likely a kind of recreation, as demonstrated by the Christmas games of Arthur's court.
Roper, Gregory. "Pearl, Penitence, and the Recovery of the Self." 28 (1993): 164-86.
The dreamer in Pearl begins speaking like a penitent confessing to a parish priest, and he must face the weak person he has been. The Pearl-Maiden, like the priest, presents the dreamer with representations of himself that the dreamer recognizes as accurate portraits. He then judges himself in need of change. The Pearl-Maiden then gives the dreamer a different self so that he may reconstruct himself by giving himself wholly to God. Having reconstructed himself, he will be considered one of the elect after death.
Schless, Howard H. "Pearl's 'Princes paye' and the Law." 24 (1989): 183-85.
The legal language of the phrase "princes paye" from Pearl suggests that the poem is about the dispute "between absolutist and comparative, between New and Old, between divine and human, law" (184).
Stanbury, Sarah. "Space and Visual Hermeneutics in the Gawain-Poet." 21 (1987): 476-89.
In Pearl, Patience, Purity, and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the poet uses circumscribed space. The characters move through these spaces, discovering hints to spiritual sight and recognizing how the spiritual encloses the physical. The poet employs the frequently used image of the edifice as spiritual work, and thresholds as transition points. Saints come to represent thresholds or points of change and mediate between man and God. Physical enclosures denote the limits of knowledge.