It might sound odd to discuss the future of pre-1600 poetry some 400 years after its end; however, there remains a great deal of work to be done in this area. Many manuscripts in which vernacular writing survived have been overlooked, neglected, or ignored. During the Reformation and after, some manuscripts were burned, shredded, or otherwise destroyed. Still others have been hidden away and lost—even today, manuscripts are being found. For instance, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight was not printed until 1839, 300
years after its composition, and the Book of Margery Kempe (ca. late 14th-early 15th century), a prose spiritual autobiography, was not discovered until 1934. Printed texts do not necessarily fare much better. For example, there are a number of sonnet sequences that exist but have not been edited, updated, or critically analyzed (e.g., Richard Linche's Diella, 1596; William Percys Sonnets to the Fairest Coelia, 1593; William Smiths Chloris, 1596). All in all, a great deal of literature from the pre-1600 era remains to be discovered and explored. Perhaps this book will provide a glimpse of the adventure that awaits.
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