small 4to (190 x 136mm.), in verse, black letter, woodcut initials, underlining and pencil annotations in pencil in a later hand, seventeenth-century signature "Eliza[beth] Goodere" on title page, later signature "T.J. Mathias" above, modern quarter brown morocco, reddish-brown cloth boards, marbled endpapers, lacking final two leaves of text (2F4, 2G1, supplied in pen facsimile) and final blank 2G2, title slightly soiled, some occasional marginal damp-staining,
second edition of the greatest poem of the middle english 'alliterative revival'.
Piers Plowman survives in about fifty manuscripts, in three quite different versions, known as the A, B, and C texts. The A-text was written about 1367-70. the B-text, a considerably extended version, dates from around 1377-9, and the C-text, a further substantial revision, around 1385-6. It is now generally agreed that all three versions were the work of Langland. The early editions use the B-text. Crowley also published the first edition in the same year. This second edition is a reprint of the first with some changes in headlines and corrected spelling. There are two issues of the second edition, distinguishable by the readings "tyme" (as here) or "time" (STC 19907a) in the title.
Describing the vision of the poet in the Vale of Berkeley and the nearby Malvern Hills, Piers Plowman is an intensely powerful allegory in verse reflecting the timeless themes of the search for truth and salvation, protest against social oppression and the corruption of the Church, the merits of poverty, and the supreme virtue of love. "The strength of Piers Plowman does not lie in its structure or argument, both of which are often confusing and uncertain....But the passages of greatest imaginative power...have a sublimity beyond the reach of any other medieval English wrtier..." (Oxford Companion to Engliish Literature)
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