Printing and the Transformation of the Middle English Romance

    loading  Checking for direct PDF access through Ovid


Printing brought about a profound shift in the perception of the Middle English romance. Although the romance had long been regarded with ambivalence, its manuscript association with religious works, including the saint's life, had lent it a degree of respectability. When printing removed the romance from its manuscript context and made possible cheap, easily accessible editions, romance characteristics that had aroused disapproval in its critics became more obvious than ever. Caxton, the first English printer of romances, attempted to guide development of the romance. He printed only “historical prose romances” and none of the popular verse versions, apparently deeming the latter old-fashioned and morally valueless. His followers, however, printed both types of romances, effacing the distinction Caxton had attempted to create, which seems to have worsened the overall reputation of the romance.

    loading  Loading Related Articles