Before the twelfth century, fiction had completely disappeared in Europe. In this important and provocative book, Laura Ashe shows how English writers brought it back, composing new tales about King Arthur, his knights and other heroes and heroines in Latin, French and English. Why did fiction disappear, and why did it come to life again to establish itself the dominant form of literature ever since? And what do we even mean by the term 'fiction'? Gathering extracts from the most important texts of the period by Wace, Marie de France, Chaucer and others, this volume offers an absorbing and surprising introduction to the earliest fiction in England.
The anthology includes a general introduction by Laura Ashe, introductions to each extract, explanatory notes and other useful editorial materials. All French and Latin texts have been newly translated, while Middle English texts include helpful glosses.
Laura Ashe is a University Lecturer in English and Fellow of Worcester College, Oxford. Her first book Fiction and History in England, 1066-1200 (Cambridge University Press, 2007) has been followed by numerous articles and edited collections; she is now writing the newOxford English Literary History vol. 1: 1000-1350 (Oxford University Press).
Laura Ashe is Associate Professor of English and a Fellow of Worcester College, Oxford. Her books include Fiction and History in England, 1066-1200 and the Oxford English Literary History, vol. 1: 1000-1350. Conquest and Transformation. She has also edited Early Fiction in England: From Geoffrey of Monmouth to Chaucer for Penguin Classics. The extraordinary flowering of English literature in the reign of Richard II features in much of her work.
Laura Ashe's brilliant account of his reign emphasizes the strange gap between Richard's personal incapacity and the amazing cultural legacy of his reign - from the Wilton Diptych to Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Piers Plowman and The Canterbury Tales.
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