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The Literary History Of Late Medieval England

By Author: Mark Gary
Total Articles: 61

During the first decades of the fifteenth century, when heresy had become quite literally a burning issue, authors were imagining more compassionate and more flexible forms for orthodoxy. Cole's most interesting examples of these proponents of alternative orthodoxies are Thomas Hoccleve and John Lydgate, two authors who have long been thought of as among the most fervent supporters of Thomas Sabo Jewellery a repressive Lancastrian orthodoxy. Working within 'the discourses of realpolitik,' Hoccleve shapes 'a more merciful orthodoxy against its severest, juridical forms'. In his 'Address to Sir John Oldcastle', he proposes an orthodoxy compatible with chivalric values an orthodoxy Oldcastle might find attractive.

In his Regiment of Princes, he suggests that Prince Henry's ineffective attempt to save John Bad by from the stake exposed him as a prince in need of advice, the very kind of advice that the Regiment offers. Just as Hoccleve shows himself to be 'strikingly at odds with the theological and political orthodoxy of his day', Lydgate 'reveals himself to be at odds with some common and contemporary theological preoccupations involving the literary, liturgical, and imagistic associations between Christ's passion and the sacrament of the altar'. Cole demonstrates Lydgate's theological independence through a close analysis of his little-studied 'Procession of Corpus Christi'. In that poem, he argues, Lydgate advances a 'figural theology' that 'approaches that of the Wycliffites', but he grounds it within an indisputably orthodox theological history. Cole presents Margery Kempe as yet another dissenter from the 'aggressive orthodoxy' of the Lancastrian regime. In her Book, accusations of lollardy become 'an affective form, a site of Thomas Sabo Bracelets a new discourse of shame'. An 'affective commitment to shame' informs Kempe's imagined relationship to Philip Repingdon, Bishop of Lincoln and recanted heretic, whose ambiguous identity, neither strictly orthodox nor strictly heterodox, spoke to her 'own sense of self as caught between extremes'.
Literature and Heresy in the Age of Chaucer is a wonderful synthesis of adroit and daring close readings with scrupulous historicizing. Though I didn't agree with everything I'm unperceived, for example, that Harry Bailly's use of 'lollard' is sympathetic the forceful cases Cole makes for his claims challenge and engage the reader. I found his readings of Hoccleve and Lydgate particularly compelling. Lately, scholars such as Maura Nolan and Ethan Knapp (for Hoccleve) have perceived more subtlety in their politics and piety, and Cole's readings advance the case for reappraisal of these 'Lancastrian apologists'. Henceforward, I will always think twice before designating a person, work, or idea 'lollard'. Cole persuades the reader of the importance of Wycliffism to English literary history through well-chosen and deftly analyzed examples. One of the book's greatest strengths is its vigorous, lucid prose the style of an author who has the courage of his convictions. Literature and Heresy stimulates and provokes. It is a must-read not just for those interested in the orthodoxies and heterodoxies of the age, but for all concerned with the literary history of late medieval England.

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