A critical companion to Gavin Douglas

Research output: Book/ReportAnthology

Abstract

Gavin Douglas was one of the most supremely gifted poets of premodern Scotland. His pioneering translation of Virgil’s Aeneid, the Eneados (1513) – the first into any dialect of Scots or English – was described by John Ruskin as ‘one of the most glorious books ever written by any nation in any language’. This volume highlights the richness and variety of Douglas’s poetry and introduces his work to a broader audience of students and general readers.

This critical companion illuminates Douglas’s life and work for a new generation. Bringing together an international collection of scholars, it maps the development of Douglas’s poetic career, from his early experimental dream vision The Palyce of Honour (1501) through to his epic Eneados (1513), with its thirteen highly inventive poetic ‘prologues’. This companion explores the generic diversity of Douglas’s work and its position within the vibrant corpus of Older Scots literature, and situates him within the wider intellectual currents of late medieval Europe, with a special focus on humanism, which galvanised his ambition and led him to become a uniquely combative reader and literary critic.

Douglas emerges in these essays not just as a seminal figure in Anglo-Scottish literary history, but as a man of many contradictions and poetic moods: he was at once a vigorous and exacting translator, a writer of riotous comedy, of pious lyricism, and of luminous landscape description. The lasting impact of his achievements is traced in the surviving manuscripts and prints of his work, and in the works of his many poetic admirers, including the Earl of Surrey in the sixteenth century.

As a critical introduction to Douglas, this volume marks the quincentenary of his death, and honours the late Priscilla Bawcutt, whose authoritative edition of Douglas’s Eneados has recently been published by the Scottish Text Society in three volumes.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherBoydell & Brewer
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Jan 2024

Keywords

  • Medieval literature
  • Scottish literature

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