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Vantuono's "Pearl": The Best One-volume Edition of the PoemJan. 10 1999
Jonathan Juilfs (email@example.com)
- Published on Amazon.com
As a young but informed student of medieval English literature, I consider "Pearl" the most profound and beautiful work ever composed in English. However, the audience for the poem has seldom ventured beyond the realm of specialists and lucky students like me. William Vantuono's unbelievably thorough edition of "Pearl" presents a new opportunity for the poem to reach a wider audience. Its main feature is the complete Middle English text with a facing-page verse translation (the first of its kind with "Pearl"). However, it includes every possible piece of information relevant to the poem's many complex issues (authorship; manuscript origin and dating; poetic structure and themes; linguistic and metrical features). In addition, Vantuono provides an exhaustive bibliography for those interested in the wide range of scholastic work submitted on the poem. In short, Vantuono's edition is the best compilation of materials about "Pearl" on the market. For those who are familiar with E.V. Gordon's standard scholarly edition of "Pearl," I would say that Gordon's edition is still unrivaled for its linguistic apparatus; however, Vantuono's bibliography and up-to-the-minute summary of conjecture concerning authorship of the poem make his edition a must-have for any person or student interested in the poem. As for Vantuono's verse translation, I still think that Marie Borroff's verse translation (Norton, 1977) has no equal, but Vantuono's adequately preserves the rhyme and alliterative qualities of the Middle English.