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Reading Literature HistoricallyDrama and Poetry from Chaucer to the Reformation$
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Greg Walker

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780748681013

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748681013.001.0001

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The Plowman’s Tale and the Politics of 1532: A Cautionary Tale?

The Plowman’s Tale and the Politics of 1532: A Cautionary Tale?

Chapter:
(p.121) Chapter 5 The Plowman’s Tale and the Politics of 1532: A Cautionary Tale?
Source:
Reading Literature Historically
Author(s):

Greg Walker

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9780748681013.003.0006

Offers an extended example of both the challenges and the pitfalls of reading literature historically. Examining the anonymous Plowman’s Tale in the context of its printed edition of 1532, it suggests how that text might have been read as a contribution to the polemical religious debates of that year, especially in the light of another document produced at the same time, the contentious parliamentary diatribe, The House of Commons’ Supplication Against the Ordinaries. As a closer look at the text suggests, however, its appearance as an anti-clerical text in 1532 was only once instance of the political work this fascinating poem seems to have performed during the century or more since its creation, as it was drafted, redrafted and revised by numerous hands.

Keywords:   The Plowman’s Tale, Lollardy, The Supplication Against the Ordinaries, Textual mouvance

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