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Passionate about trying to create social justice in a time of crisis after the Black Plague, William Langland spent his entire life working on Piers Plowman, an epic study of the human quest for truth, justice, and community. The "A Version," the first and shortest of the three versions he crafted, is wonderfully relatable and completely teachable to a modern student audience. Piers Plowman is becoming ever more relevant to students and scholars in English studies. Perhaps because the poem involves culture, religion, community, and work and engages explicitly with the histories of government and popular revolt, this allegorical tale of a wandering Christian named "Will," searching for truth with the aid of a humble plowman named Piers, has found new critical and pedagogic life in the last 20 years. Currently there are no translations of the A-version of Piers Plowman in print, so readers, scholars and teachers have been longing for an affordable, student-centered translation. The apparatus includes a 30-page historical and critical introduction, footnotes, a bibliography, a note on translation theory and practice, and samplings of the original text in Middle English, with a guide to pronunciation of that language.
Piers Plowman is an extraordinary important document about the issues dramatically relevant to this day. It confronts poverty and inequity in 14th-century England and explores the need for virtue and social justice, encouraging its readers to create equality with open access for people of all classes and abilities. Though a Christian poem, Piers addresses issues of inclusivity, social responsibility and communal duty, as the poem’s protagonist wanders about the world, facing injustice and persecution as he looks for truth and salvation. Michael Calabrese, author of An Introduction to Piers Plowman and director of the Chaucer Studio’s Middle English recording of the poem, brings Piers Plowman to life for 21st-century students and for all readers interested in the history of society, virtue, faith and salvation.
Michael Calabrese is professor of english, California State University, Los Angeles, and author of An Introduction to Piers Plowman.
"Langland has offered us a truly Catholic consideration of the great struggle that is human existence, one that requires, first and foremost, God's grace, but also our cooperation."~Crisis Magazine
"Calabrese's translation of Piers Plowman is an admirable addition to the world of Langland's material archive, and one that I think will help students - particularly introductory ones - begin to work thoughtfully and to care about the poem."~Digital Philology
" Piers Plowman is a vertiable treasure trove of comments about fundamental ethics and morality at a difficult moment of time, the late fourteenth century...the new translation by Calabrese immediately invites one to restart our reading of this monumental text."~Mediaevistik
"A hugely entertaining, and inviting, romp through the earliest version of Langland's great Middle English poem. Calabrese's engaging approach will surely lure many students into the world of Piers Plowman, as is his primary, and urgent, intention. There is something very alive here that one will not find in many other places. Calabrese's book is a high point in this rich area of Piers Plowman's history."~Medieval Review
"Michael Calabrese's book satisfies a long-standing need for a modern, affordable, student-friendly translation of the A version of Piers Plowman. The volume is a concise introduction to Langland studies, translating the most accessible (and teachable) version of Piers and supplementing it with information useful to students."~Speculum