The Grounds of English Literature

Paperback | October 12, 2007

byChristopher Cannon

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The centuries just after the Norman Conquest are the forgotten period of English literary history. In fact, the years 1066-1300 witnessed an unparalleled ingenuity in the creation of written forms, for this was a time when almost every writer was unaware of the existence of other Englishwriting. In a series of detailed readings of the more important early Middle English works, Cannon shows how the many and varied texts of the period laid the foundations for the project of English literature. This richness is for the first time given credit in these readings by means of aninnovative theory of literary form that accepts every written shape as itself a unique contribution to the history of ideas. This theory also suggests that the impoverished understanding of literature we now commonly employ is itself a legacy of this early period, an attribute of the single form wehave learned to call 'romance'. A number of reading methods have lately taught us to be more generous in our understandings of what literature might be, but this book shows us that the very variety we now strive to embrace anew actually formed the grounds of English literature-a richness we onlylost when we forgot how to recognize it.

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The centuries just after the Norman Conquest are the forgotten period of English literary history. In fact, the years 1066-1300 witnessed an unparalleled ingenuity in the creation of written forms, for this was a time when almost every writer was unaware of the existence of other Englishwriting. In a series of detailed readings of the ...

Christopher Cannon is a Fellow of Girton College and a University Lecturer in the Faculty of English, Cambridge.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:256 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 0.59 inPublished:October 12, 2007Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199230390

ISBN - 13:9780199230396

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Table of Contents

Preface1. The Loss of Literature2. The Law of the Land: Lazamon's 'Brut'3. Right Writing: 'The Ormulum'4. The Meaning of Life: 'The Owl and the Nightingale'5. The Place of the Self: 'Ancrene Wisse' and the 'Katherine'-group6. The Spirit of Romance: 'King Horn, Havelock the Dane, Floris and Blanchflour'

Editorial Reviews

`A theoretically engaged critical monograph ... Christopher Cannon's closely packed book deserves a wide readership'Nicholas Perkins, Times Literary Supplement