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A Middle English Reader and Vocabulary by Kenneth Sisam, J. R. R. Tolkien

By Kenneth Sisam, J. R. R. Tolkien

This hugely revered anthology of medieval English literature positive aspects a number of well-chosen extracts of poetry and prose, including popular stories from Arthurian legend and classical mythology, in addition to the allegorical poem "Piers Plowman" and John Wycliffe's translation of the Bible. contains notes on every one extract, appendices, and an intensive word list through J. R. R. Tolkien.

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There is more animation in the Duncombe of'Mr Harrison's Confessions', which already gives a spectrum of small town society. The same year-1851-the first episode of Cranford made its appearance in Dickens' Household Words, with the title 'Our Society at Cranford'. On her own admission Elizabeth Gaskell 'never meant to write more',4 but Dickens and his readers refused to be satisfied without further chronicles of the little town, and Cranford finally appeared in book form in 1853. Its popularity was and has remained such that 'Cranford' has become almost a generic term, and 'Cranfordian' a qualification applicable to any of the small towns that recur in her work.

Later, in her dreams, the sea becomes a symbol both of human cruelty and of a yet more terrible unknown. Carrying her son in her arms, she seems to be pursued both by her former lover, determined to claim his child, and by the unrelenting tide. '28 In Sylvia's Lovers the sea fills a dual role; it is the Protean element, always alive and always beautiful, and it is, more mysteriously, the 'type of eternity'. '29 Its very neighbourhood spells exhilaration, and even though Sylvia connects it Jater with the loss of her lover she still sometimes finds solace in watching from the shore 'the advancing waves catching the sunlight on their crests, advancing, receding, for ever and for ever, as they had done all her life long ..

Ch. I) Here, like Constable, she paints not only the view but the season, the weather, the time of day. 20 One can recognise here the salient features of her landscapes: the keen observation, the effortless selection of concrete detail, the instinct for composition which blends them into a harmonious unity, the sense of movement which permeates the whole. The freshness which characterises her descriptions owes much to the keenness of her sensory perception. She herselfsaid that she liked 'a smelling and singing world', 21 instinctively giving priority to the sense which has the fewest 'literary' associations.

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