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Title: The Werste Lay That Euer Harper Sange With Harp: The Forms of Early Middle English Satire
Authors: Parsons, Ben
First Published: 2008
Publisher: University of California, Los Angeles
Citation: Comitatus, 2008, 39, pp. 113-135
Abstract: There is a persistent view in criticism which characterizes satirical discourse in Middle English as profoundly conservative. It is routinely asserted that satirical discourse was capable only of simple moral pronouncements, and that it was predisposed to champion the ideals and conventions it drew upon. The article challenges this conception. It revisits some of the earliest examples of satire in English to counter such a view, paying particular attention to the texts collected in Jesus College MS 29, and the Harley MSS 913 and 2253. Through examining these sources, a range of more scurrilous and defamatory devices are identified. Far from being inflexibly censorious, satire is found to have a strong element of deprecation and deflation in its arsenal of techniques. The article also reviews existing scholarship on medieval vernacular satire to suggest how existing conceptions of the literature may be refined, to reflect the findings it reaches.
ISSN: 0069-6412
eISSN: 1557-0290
Version: Post-print
Status: Peer-reviewed
Type: Journal Article
Rights: © 2008, University of California, Los Angeles. Archived with permission of the publisher.
Appears in Collections:Published Articles, Dept. of English

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