BRITISH WRITERS, Volume 1 by Ian Scott-Kilvert

By Ian Scott-Kilvert

Volumes 1-8 and vitamins 1-4. entire

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WILL/AM LANGLAND: PIERS PLOWMAN notes, and glossary (still the standard text for C); T. A. Knott and D. C. , Piers the Plowman, A Critical Edition of the "A" Version (Baltimore, 1952), with introduction, notes, and glossary; G. , Piers Plowman: The "A" Version (1960), text with variant readings, also important textual introduction; C. , Selections from Piers Plowman (1965), from the B text, with commentary and glossary; E. Salter and D. , Piers Plowman (1967), selections from the C text, with commentary and glossary; J.

To be "gentil," he says, is to imitate Christ, for that is the perfection of our proper natures: But, for ye speken of swich gentillesse As is descended out of old richesse, That therfore sholden ye be gentil men, Swich arrogance is nat worth an hen. Looke who that is moost vertuous alway, Pryvee and apert,25 and moost entendeth ay To do the gentil dedes that he kan; Taak hym for the grettest gentil man. Crist wole we clayme of hym our gentillesse, Nat of oure eldres for hire old richesse. (The Wife of Bath's Tale) Whan Adam dalf and Eve span Who was tho the gentilman?

The roughmouthed Host himself was capable of it: This watchword of the Peasants' Revolt had come to them (though they knew it not) from Dante, who had devoted an entire treatise to the subject: . . and with that word he sayde, As curteisly as it had been a mayde, "My lady Prioresse, by youre leve, So that I wiste I sholde yow nat greve, I wolde demen that ye tellen sholde A tale next, if so were that ye wolde. " If Adam himself was noble, we are all noble, and if he was base, we are all base. (Convivio, IV, xv) Dante was arguing that nobility was not inherited.

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