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The University of Southampton
Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Culture

Lynn Forest-Hill

Published: 9 December 2015
Bevis Cover Parchment

A fellow of CMRC Lynn Forest-Hill has recently published the following book which is of considerable local and literary interest, and a copy of which she will be kindly donating to the Cope Collection of the University's Hartley Library: Bevis of Hampton, translated by Lynn Forest-Hill, Limited Festival Edition, published by Southampton Festivals, 2015

This new translation of the fourteenth-century Middle English poem Sir Bevis of Hampton from the Auchinleck MS offers convenient access, and exposes the poem’s original engagement with the politics of language. The story belongs to the Matter of England and its location in Southampton and the Isle of Wight gave political point to the poem, which was a heavily ‘Englished’ version of an older French chanson. The medieval revisions, preserved here, included many specifically English additions such as irony, humour, colloquialisms, and history.

The story includes the medieval motifs of the ‘male Cinderalla’, or dispossessed noble youth, and the ‘wooing lady’ more familiar from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Mythic elements show similarities with Celtic and Germanic myth. The story became known to Chaucer, Shakespeare, Bunyan, and Defoe, and gave rise to European versions before its fame diminished. This translation is intended introduce it to non-specialist readers and students.

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