The Owl and the Nightingale

BookThe Owl and the Nightingale

The Owl and the Nightingale

Text and Translation

Exeter Medieval Texts and Studies


October 1st, 2001

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The Owl and the Nightingale is one of the first and greatest long comic poems in the English language and one of the best-known and most accomplished of all medieval literary texts. By turns both gleefully trivial and allusively serious, it has been described by literary critics as a "most miraculous piece of writing", "a marvel of literary art" and "a truly amazing phenomenon". There is no other edition currently in print and this is the first new English edition of the poem since 1960.The book contains a lively parallel-text translation in modern English, as well as a glossary, notes and Introduction. The edition has involved a complete reconsideration of the poem's complex textual history, its linguistic provenance and the practices of its scribes, as well as its possible sources.

Author Information

Neil Cartlidge is a Professor in the Department of English Studies at the University of Durham

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
Title Page4
Copyright Page5
A: Authorship, Date and Provenance14
B: Critical Reception17
C: Contexts and Sources28
D: Circulation and Transmission41
E: Linguistic Features46
F: This Edition49
The Owl and the Nightingale56
Explanatory Notes99
Appendices to the Explanatory Notes151
A: Owls contrasted with Nightingales151
B: The Fable of the Hawk and the Nightingale153
C: The Owl’s Wickedness and the Darkness154
D: The Fable of the Hawk and the Owl154
E: Nicholas of Guildford156
F: The Nightingale as the "Bird of Love"157
G: The Knight, the Lady and the Nightingale158
H: Jealous Husbands158
J: Violent Husbands160
Textual and Linguistic Notes161
A: Dictionaries198
B: Other Works of Reference198
C: Editions, Translations, Facsimiles and Concordances of The Owl and the Nightingale199
D: Editions, Translations and Facsimiles of other Medieval Works200
E: Bibliography of Secondary Texts207
F: Supplementary Bibliography220
Plate 1: Jesus MS29
Plate 2: Cotton MS30