Copyright (c) 1994 by Hoyt N. Duggan, all rights reserved. This
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Notes for Users:
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will take you to the linked image or text. Some readers may find it
most easy to return steadily to the Table of Contents and navigate from
that fixed point, but in some cases now and eventually throughout the
Archive, readers will be able to move easily from any image or
text to any other through hypertextual linkages.
The long-range goal of the Piers Plowman Electronic Archive
is the creation of a multi-level, hyper-textually linked electronic archive
of the textual tradition of all three versions of the fourteenth-century
allegorical dream vision Piers Plowman. Project editors Robert
Adams, Eric Eliason, Ralph Hanna, III, Thorlac Turville-Petre, and I will
begin by making documentary editions of B manuscripts CFGHmLMRW
in the first years, by preparing color digital facsimiles of those manuscripts,
by reconstructing the B archetype (the latest common copy from
which all extant witnesses can be shown to descend), and by establishing
a critical edition of the B version with appropriate textual, linguistic,
and codicological annotation for each of the three levels of the Archive.
We will continue preparing documentary editions of the remaining B
manuscripts and early printed texts and begin transcribing A and
William Langland wrote three distinct versions (A, B,
and C) of Piers Plowman. Scribes and early editors produced
several more combined versions of A and C. Of the fifty-four
more or less complete surviving manuscripts of the poem, seventeen are
of the B version, which is now the most widely read, and also
the version with the most complex textual history. All the surviving
witnesses are full of errors, some the result of incompetence, others
the product of sophisticated re-writing.
An electronic edition does not suppress editorial disagreement or
impose spurious notions of authority, as printed editions often tend
to do. Instead, it embraces the provisional nature of scholarly editing.
We shall make permanently available the texts on which future editorial
and literary study must be based, and we shall propose a set of solutions
to editorial problems without suggesting that they will have final authority.
Future scholars will be able to incorporate their own insights into
the Archive. By tackling what is textually the most difficult
work in Middle English, we hope to develop a model for computer-generated
editions that will have value beyond the confines of Middle English