6.0511 Q: Piers Plowman Narrative Voice (1/190

Mon, 15 Feb 1993 15:06:29 EST

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 6, No. 0511. Monday, 15 Feb 1993.

Date: Monday, 15 Feb 1993 14:20:01 EST
From: <U5985@WVNVM>
Subject: In a Different Voice?

I am currently engaged in a seminar on Piers Plowman at West Virginia U., and
have been distracted by c.III.68-76 (Pearsall), or c.IV.68-76 (Skeat). It
seems to me that the voice which is present in these lines is not the regular
narrative voice or the voice of any character involved in the action. In his
notes to the text, Pearsall states of 68-76, "This digression, totally
intrusive in the allegorical drama, is inspired not by any objection to
beautifying churches but by the need to castigate those who have their names
recorded for pride's sake and who think that money can buy God's favor."
Yes, this explanation is fine, but there is no reference made to the
different voice which is speaking here. This is the only instance of the
voice which I have found in Passus III, and I have not seen it occur anywhere
else in the poem yet either (Although I have only reached P.VIII). I consider
the voice at c.III.68-76 (c.IV.68-76 Skeat) to be that of a "second narrator,"
and would like to know if anyone has any thoughts or information in regard
to the significance of this passage, knowledge of the presence of similar
passages in the poem, or awareness of research directed toward the matter of
a second narrative voice in Piers-- thus far I have not had any luck, and
would appreciate any help that may be offered, even if it were to tell me
that this is a wild goose chase! --Greg McNamara