The Pricke of Conscience

An Annotated Edition of the Southern Recension


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About the Book

This dramatic early 14th century Middle English sermon rehearses humanity’s wretchedness and the world’s instability, before contemplating the journey from death to the anguish of purgatory and hell, or ultimately to the joys of heaven. Its 7,316 lines of rhyming couplets present sensational descriptions intended to shock the audience into religious zeal, alongside a biblical exegesis reinforcing the message of salvation and cautioning against its impediments.
Although the Main version of the Pricke of Conscience has thrice been edited from three manuscripts, no version from the Southern Recension group has appeared to date. This edited version of a shorter, tighter Southern manuscript fills the gap. In-line glosses, extensive notes and translated Latin quotations make this fascinating text accessible to modern readers.

Instructors considering this book for use in a course may request an examination copy here.

About the Author(s)

Jean E. Jost is an emerita professor of English literature at Bradley University, Peoria, Illinois, where she taught medieval literature, women’s literature and advanced writing for 27 years.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Jean E. Jost with a Glossary by Hoyt Greeson
Format: softcover (8.5 x 11)
Pages: 256
Bibliographic Info: glossary, notes, bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2020
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7119-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments    ix

General Introduction    1

I. Introduction to the Poem and Manuscript    7

 Description of HM 128, Huntington Library, San Marino, California    7

  Contents of HM 128    7

  Date, Collation, and Hands    7

  Foliation    8

  Physical Description and Page Arrangement    8

  Decoration and Textual Presentation in the Pricke of Conscience, HM 128    8

 Versions of the Pricke of Conscience    8

  Manuscript Editions    8

  Modern and Medieval Editions    9

 Provenance of the Pricke of Conscience, HM 128    10

  Authorship    10

  Dating    10

  Language (by Hoyt Greeson)    10

 Manuscript Choice    12

  Criteria for “Best Text” of Pricke of Conscience Manuscript    12

  Rationale    15

 Editorial Policy    

  Spelling, Punctuation, Capitalization, Abbreviations and Division Markers    16

  Latin Quotations    16

  Critical Apparatus    16

  Bibliographies    17

  Notes    17

II. Pricke of Conscience

 Facsimile of Huntington Manuscript 128 Folio 1 recto    21

 Prologue: God’s Power Folio 1r    23

 Part I. Man’s Wretchedness Folio 4v    30

 Part II. The Instability of the World Folio 10v    42

 Part III. Death Folio 18v    58

 Part IV. Purgatory Folio 28v    78

 Part V. Ten Signs of Doomsday Folio 42v    106

 Part VI. The Pains of Hell Folio 69v    160

 Part VII. The Joys of Heaven Folio 77v    176

 Select Glossary (by Hoyt Greeson)    211

 Select Bibliography: Content of HM 128    238

 Select Bibliography: Dialect, Sources, and Definitions (by Hoyt Greeson)    240

 Index    241

Book Reviews & Awards

“Fabulous…eminently readable” —Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Teaching