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date: 25 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article highlights that ‘Elegy as a pure or self-articulated form did not exist in medieval England; when employed by modern critics with reference to poems such as Pearl or Book of the Duchess, the term is no more than a matter of critical convenience’. After offering its caveat about the nomenclature of elegy, it moves on to echo the thesis about the self-reflexive nature of the genre. However, this reflexivity plays itself out in a tension between a Stoic-Boethian assertion of loss and the creative potential of loss, a potential that yields poetry with a recuperative function. Moreover, the association of poetic identity and the ‘medieval’ more generally, with the temporal constructions of elegy is elaborated. For both Lydgate and Hoccleve, Chaucerian elegy serves as a point of origin for the development of a vernacular poetic identity and a national myth of English poetry.

Keywords: philosophy, later medieval elegy, Chaucerian elegy, Lydgate, Hoccleve, English poetry, poetic identity

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