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date: 24 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Plato and Aristotle offered contrasting definitions of “form.” According to Plato, a “form” was external to the material world, a notion or idea or thought that can properly exist only in a mind. For Aristotle, “form” was always a part of some material thing. In Troilus and Criseyde, Geoffrey Chaucer offers a description that does not use the word “form,” and yet it implies a process that could be summarized with the word “formation.” This article discusses the advantages of a literary analysis that embraces a uniquely comprehensive definition of form, particularly in the realm of Middle English literature. It argues that each element of a comprehensive theory of literary form encompasses both thinking and writing in the Middle Ages. It also considers key aspects of the form of two representative Middle English texts, Pearl and Robert Mannyng’s Handlyng Synne.

Keywords: form, Troilus and Criseyde, Geoffrey Chaucer, formation, literary analysis, Middle English literature, literary form, Pearl, Robert Mannyng, Handlyng Synne

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