Poetics of holiness : Bernard of Clairvaux and the Pearl poet.




Wolfe, Elisabeth G.

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Scholars have often acknowledged Bernard of Clairvaux as a probable influence on the four poems surviving in MS Cotton Nero A.x.—Pearl, Patience, Cleanness, and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight—but few have pursued the interpretive potential of comparisons between the writings of the twelfth-century abbot and those of the anonymous fourteenth-century poet. Both men wrote to similar audiences and shared a common concern: persuading an indifferent culture that the purity of heart without which none can see God is a worthwhile goal, despite the difficulties one encounters along the way. Examining parallels between the two authors reveals key insights into Gawain’s battle for virtue, implications for monastic audiences of Jonah’s impatience and for clerics of God’s intolerance of habitual sin, and the Dreamer’s theological errors that hinder his pursuit of God.


Includes bibliographical references (p. 185-199).