William of Palerne Criticism - Essay

Frederick Madden (essay date 1832)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: An introduction to The Ancient English Romance of William and the Werwolf, Burt Franklin, 1832, pp. i-xvii.

[In the essay below, Madden reviews the circumstances surrounding the composition of William of Palerne, discussing in particular the likely date of composition, the patron for whom this translation of the French poem Guillaume de Palerne was written, and what is known about the origins of Guillaume de Palerne.]

The Romance of William and the Werwolf, contained in the present volume, is printed from an unique Ms. preserved in the library of King's College, Cambridge, and its literary history renders it of more than common interest to...

(The entire section is 6871 words.)

Walter W. Skeat (essay date 1867)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: An introduction to The Romance of William of Palerne, N. Trübner and Co., 1867, pp. i-v.

[In the following essay, Skeat praises Frederick Madden's edition of William of Palerne for its “strict and literal accuracy,” and offers a brief outline of the story.]

1. The “Extra Series” of the publications of the Early English Text Society, of which this is the first volume, is intended to be supplementary to the ordinary series in such a way as to expedite the printing of the whole quantity of work to be printed. It has been proposed that it shall be reserved entirely for reprints and re-editions, and this rule will in general be adhered to. At the...

(The entire section is 2332 words.)

Kate Watkins Tibbals (essay date 1903)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: “Elements of Magic in the Romance of William of Palerne,” in Modern Philology, Vol. 1, No. 2, October, 1903, pp. 355-37.

[In the following essay, Tibbals briefly discusses the textual history of William of Palerne and analyzes the nature and significance of the story's magical incidents, including animal transformations and prophetic dreams.]

About the year 1350, at the command of Sir Humphrey Bohun, the French Roman de Guillaume de Palerne was translated into English by one William, of whom we know nothing but this name. The translator was unusually faithful to his original, omitting nothing essential and making no important addition;...

(The entire section is 6913 words.)

Irene Pettit McKeehan (essay date 1926)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: “Guillaume de Palerne: A Medieval ‘Best Seller’,” PMLA, Vol. 41, No. 4, December, 1926, pp. 785-809.

[In the following essay, McKeehan focuses on the plot of Guillaume de Palerne. McKeehan discusses the numerous similarities between this story and several other tales, particularly Floriante et Florete, a French romance written circa 1300, Cormac Mac Art, an Irish tale about a prince raised by a wolf, and the Lai de Melion, a “Celtic Werwolf Tale.” McKeehan also investigates the elements of the story that were likely to have increased its popularity among contemporary audiences.]

So many things about the Middle Ages...

(The entire section is 10170 words.)

Charles W. Dunn (essay date 1960)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: “From Legend to Romance,” in The Foundling and the Werwolf: A Literary-Historical Study of Guillaume de Palerne, University of Toronto Press, 1960, pp. 125-39.

[In the following essay, Dunn focuses on the setting and plot of Guillaume de Palerne. Dunn comments on the author's adaptation of Sicilian source legends into the French romance.]

Now that we have established the probability that Guillaume derives its setting from geographical facts and its plot from national Sicilian legends, we are in a position to analyse the romancer's methods by asking how he obtained his material, why it appealed to him, and how he converted it into romance....

(The entire section is 6028 words.)

Thorlac Turville-Petre (essay date 1974)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: “Humphrey de Bohun and William of Palerne,” Neuphilologische Mitteilungen, Vol. LXXV, No. 2, 1974, pp. 250-52.

[In the following essay, Turville-Petre maintains that William of Palerne likely was composed prior to 1361 at the command of Humphrey de Bohun for members of his retinue, who resided at two neighboring manors.]

That Humphrey de Bohun, Earl of Hereford and Essex, commissioned the alliterative poem William of Palerne at some date before 1361 is one of the few ascertainable facts about the social background of the poems of the Alliterative Revival.1 Since, as a result, so much importance is accorded to this one nugget...

(The entire section is 1054 words.)

G. H. V. Bunt (essay date 1985)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: “The Story,” in William of Palerne: An Alliterative Romance, Groningen, 1985, pp. 93-108.

[In the following essay, Bunt studies the structure, setting, historical background, and magical elements in William of Palerne.]

1. Since the first three leaves of the Ms. are lost, we are dependent on the French Guillaume de Palerne for the opening episodes of the story, which are, however, recapitulated later in our English poem.

The French poem, then, tells us that king Embron of Sicily and his queen Felise have a four-year-old son, Guillaume, who is entrusted for instruction to two Greek ladies, Gloriande and Acelone. The king's...

(The entire section is 8012 words.)