Piers Plowman

A Modern Verse Translation


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About the Book

William Langland’s 14th–century poem Piers Plowman, a disturbing and often humorous commentary on corruption and greed, remains meaningful today. The allegorical work revolves around the narrator’s quest to live a good life, and takes the form of a series of dreams in which Piers, the honest plowman, appears in various guises. Characters such as Conscience, Fidelity and Charity, alongside Falsehood and Guile, are instantly recognizable as our present-day politicians and celebrities, friends and neighbors. Social issues are confronted, including governance, economic relations, criminal justice, marital relations and the limits of academic learning, as well as religious belief and the natural world.
This new verse translation from the Middle English preserves the energy, imagery and intent of the original, and retains its alliterative style.
Instructors considering this book for use in a course may request an examination copy here.

About the Author(s)

Peter Sutton is a playwright, translator and editor. He has edited or translated books and documents from French, German, Italian and Spanish for the Council of Europe and the OECD, as well as for legal publishers and cultural institutions. He has written German language textbooks and has lectured on translation and English language at universities worldwide. He lives in the United Kingdom.

Bibliographic Details

William Langland. Translated by Peter Sutton
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 272
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2014
pISBN: 978-0-7864-9503-0
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1817-3
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments  v
Introduction  1
The Identity of the Author  13
Prologue  21
Step I  28
Step II  35
Step III  42
Step IV  53
Step V  59
Step VI  78
Step VII  88
Step VIII  96
Step IX  100
Step X  107
Step XI  122
Step XII  136
Step XIII  146
Step XIV  161
Step XV  175
Step XVI  194
Step XVII  203
Step XVIII  214
Step XIX  228
Step XX  242
Selected Bibliography  253
Index  257

Book Reviews & Awards

“Sutton’s translation succeeds as a readable, rhythmic representation of the original…recommended”—Choice.