"Pearl" and scriptural tradition
Farragher, Bernard P.
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From the time of its first publication in 1864 interest in Pearl has steadily increased. In the late nineteenth century the poem, primarily because of its difficult dialect, was a scholar's curiosity. Today, thanks to carefully prepared editions, translations and critical studies by English, American, German, French, Italian, Frisian and Japanese scholars, Pearl has rightfully achieved international renown. A clearly discernible shift in critical attitudes accompanied this increase in interest. Early sentimental views of the poem and its author were gradually supplanted by more accurate historical and textual criticism with the result that recent critical opinion is of one mind in its emphasis upon multiple levels of meaning within the poem. This study also employs a combined historical-textual approach as it interprets Pearl by means of the medieval fourfold method. Beginning with a brief sketch of allegory in pre-Christian times, the origin and development of the fourfold system is chronologically defined and this definition, supplemented by textual criticism, supplies the basis for an understanding of the poem as a product of its time. After a review of previous Pearl scholarship the interpretation also demonstrates how the fourfold method provides a frame of reference in which previous divergent interpretations of the poem can be reconciled. [TRUNCATED]
Missing page 58. Thesis (Ph.D.)--Boston University
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