This edition, the first since 1878, offers Middle English texts accompanied by detailed notes contextualizing the poems within an apocryphal tradition and full glossary. The Introduction reviews the development of the Adam and Eve legend in medieval European vernacular. Last edited in 1878, the two poems edited in this volume are medieval English versions of the legendary lives of Adam and Eve, telling of their attempts to regain the Paradise they had just lost and their life after the Fall, and merging with the related legends of the history of the Cross before Christ. The poems are important as part of a very large European tradition of vernacular adaptations of the Adambook, known in its Latin form (the immediate source) as the Vita Adae et Evae, with analogues in many other languages. Once very well known, these stories largely disappeared after the Reformation. The works are of equal interest not only in the general area of medieval English literature, but also in the study of Old Testament apocrypha itself. This edition offers readable texts of the two poems, accompanied by a detailed set of notes which contextualise the poems within their apocryphal traditions; traditions which have echoes in a wide variety of other medieval works, ranging from continental world-chronicles to the Cornish Ordinalia and to the English mystery-cycles. The Introduction includes a substantial review of the development of the Adam and Eve legend in medieval European vernacular and is a contribution to scholarship in its own right.
B.O. Murdoch is Professor of German at the University of Stirling. He has published widely on medieval and modern literature in German and Celtic, including Adam's Grace (Brewer, 2000) and The Germanic Hero (Hambledon, 1996). His main research interests include medieval literature in general (Germanic and also Celtic), especially religious literature; the Baroque; and the literature of the world wars, especially the writings of Erich Maria Remarque. J.A. Tasioulas is a Fellow in English at Newnham College, Cambridge and has written on Chaucer and medieval drama and edited The Makars (Canongate, 1999), a collection of the poems of Henryson, Dunbar and Douglas.
This welcome volume offers accessible texts and comprehensive notes on two medieval English versions of the legendary Lives of Adam and Eve. An admirable, authoritative contribution to scholarship on the apocryphal tradition.
Medium Ævum Vol LXXII
Two of the most interesting Middle English poems on these subjects… are here presented in an edition that meets the usual high standards of the Exeter Medieval English Texts and Studies series.
…In making the texts available in a handsome edition, and in documenting the Latin source material so thoroughly, Murdoch and Tasioulas are to be commended.
… a well informed and carefully presented volume containing editions of the only two surviving Middle English texts in verse dealing with apocryphal lives of Adam and Eve … This volume serves to rescue two highly interesting vernacular texts … These two texts are well served by their modern editors, and the edition will probably be in use for as many generations as its predecessor.
Anglia Zeitschrift für Englische Philologie, Band 122 , Heft 3
Tout en rendant service aux specialistes de la literature anglaise medievale, ce petit en volume economique, facilement accessible, merite le success aupres de etudiants.
Comptes Rendus - Le Moyen Âge. CXI