112 Journal of Medieval Religious Cultures Curtis A. Gruenler. Piers Plowman and the Poetics of Enigma: Riddles, Rhetoric, and Theology. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2017. Pp. 586. isbn : 9780268101626. US$75.00 (cloth). evelyn reynolds Indiana University In Piers Plowman and the Poetics of Enigma, Curtis A. Gruenler makes three arguments. First, that in the Middle Ages, riddles, rhetoric, and theology converge in a poetics of enigma — of play, persuasion, and par- ticipation. Second, that William Langland develops this poetics from ear- lier sources, and that his poetics influences other late fourteenth-century English writers. Third, that medieval enigma shapes modern literature and theory. On riddles and theology, and play and participation, this book suc- ceeds beautifully. Gruenler deftly manages a vast array of sources and offers elegant close readings of Langland and his contemporaries. The book’s handling of rhetoric and persuasion is less convincing, mainly because this section does not dialogue with current developments in scholarship of the medieval imagination, and because it implies links between conversion and social action that it does not fully explain. These concerns aside, Poetics of Enigma represents a rich contribution to the study of medieval poetics. Throughout this book,
The Journal of Medieval Religious Cultures – Penn State University Press
Published: Feb 21, 2018
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