Translated by William Vantuono
The anonymous author of the poem Pearl is rated with Langland and Chaucer as one of the greatest Middle English poets. And, while a number of editions of this poem have been published, including E. V. Gordon’s 1953 edition and Marie Borroff’s 1977 verse translation, no edition until now has included a verse translation, Middle English text, and commentary in one volume. William Vantuono’s new edition of Pearl is certain to become a classroom standard because it contains for the first time a Middle English text with a facing-page Modern English verse translation as well as extensive scholarly apparatus.
Pearl is the first of four poems in a manuscript dated around 1400 A.D. The other three poems in this manuscript are Cleanness, Patience, and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. According to Vantuono’s introduction, it is conceivable that Pearl was written for a nobleman, perhaps the poet’s patron, who had lost a young daughter. However, many unanswered questions remain about the circumstances surrounding the poet and his writing of Pearl: Was he a layman or a priest? Is _Pearl _ primarily elegy or allegory? Was the pearl-maiden his daughter, and if she was, can that fact be reconciled with the possibility that the poet was a clergyman?
This volume contains an extensive commentary covering all matters from minute textual problems to the various debates about the poem’s theme and genre. Appendices discuss versification, dialect and language, and sources and analogues; two bibliographies list over 500 items through the early 1990s; and the book concludes with a full glossary. Pearl: An Edition with Verse Translation will appeal to scholars confronted with the tasks of studying and teaching medieval literature to students in college and university classrooms. It is a book designed for specialists and non-specialists, students, and general readers.
“Reinforcing his position as the preeminent contemporary editor of the Pearl poems, Vantuono now furnishes readers with an edition of Pearl as well as a verse translation on pages facing the text. . . . Vantuono succeeds admirably in his editorial purposes, for he has crafted a book suitable for students and scholars alike. Such an edition, then, both illuminates Pearl’s rich vision world and complements Vantuono’s . . . Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.” — Studies in the Age of Chaucer
“Pearl: An Edition With Verse Translation is a very helpful tool. It is most useful for its conservative Middle English text of Pearl and accompanying glossary, for its notes to the text, for Bibliography I, and . . . for its Introduction.” — The Medieval Review