A Middle English Translation from Petrarch's Secretum

ISBN : 9780198828334

Edward Wilson
352 Pages
156 x 234 mm
Pub date
Aug 2018
Early English Text Society Original Series


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This is the first printed edition of a landmark work in the history of English humanism and perhaps English drama: a translation of part of Petrarch's Secretum into English verse. Copied at Winchester Cathedral in 1487, it is only the third work by Petrarch to be translated into English and is the most accurate and extensive translation from his work before the 1530s. It offers an insight into early English responses to humanist learning, with its balance of classical and religious ideas, and to the cosmopolitan and urbane taste of fifteenth-century English churchmen in the century before the Reformation. It might bear witness to the inventiveness of English poetry in a period with few such records; and, as Secretum is a dialogue, it might even be counted an early English secular work for performance. The edition has detailed explanatory notes and a glossary, revealing its verbal inventiveness and the translator's familiarity with Chaucerian verse traditions. It has an extensive introduction, relating it to literary culture at Winchester at the time and to the manuscripts of Petrarch's Latin Secretum in England at the time.


Daniel Wakelin: Introduction
I. The manuscript
II. The context of the manuscript
III. The authorship of the translation
IV. The date of the translation
V. Manuscripts of the source in English hands
VI. The textual relationship of the source manuscripts
VII. Method of translation
VIII. Dialogue and dramatic form
IX. Verse and style
Editorial policy
Apparatus criticus
Table of correspondences

About the author: 

Edward Wilson is Emeritus Fellow in English at Worcester College, Oxford. He is the author of A Descriptive Index of the English Lyrics in Johs of Grimestone's Preaching Book, Medium Aevum Monographs, n.s. ii (Blackwell, 1973), The Gawain-Poet (Brill, 1976), and The Winchester Anthology (Brewer, 1981). ; Daniel Wakelin is Jeremy Griffiths Professor of Medieval English Palaeography at the University of Oxford. He is the author of Humanism, Reading and English Literature 1430-1530 (Oxford University Press, 2007), Scribal Correction and Literary Craft: English Manuscripts 1375-1510 (Cambridge University Press, 2014) and Designing English: Early Literature on the Page (Bodleian Publishing, 2017).

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