RICHARD ROLLE'S ENGLISH PSALTER, PSALMS 91 - 105: AN EDITION WITH AN INTRODUCTORY ESSAY ON ROLLE'S STYLE

ELLEN ALANA CARNEY, Fordham University

Abstract

Richard Rolle's English Psalter contains the Book of Psalms in Latin with an English prose translation and commentary on each verse. The only complete printed version is the 1884 edition by H. R. Bramley, who prepared his collation from a limited number of the extant manuscripts, some of which were corrupted by interpolations. In the light of this fact and of new material on Rolle, a new edition of Rolle's Psalter according to modern standards of textual analysis was warranted.^ The present edition of Psalms 91-105 which includes full collation, notes and glossary is based on seventeen known, available, and uninterpolated manuscripts. A conservative editorial practice has been followed and emendations have been introduced only after careful comparison with variant readings. In some instances, emendations were made after considering the sense of the passage in the light of Peter the Lombard's and Augustine's psalm commentaries. Punctuation, capitalization and word division have all been made according to modern usage. In the text abbreviations have been expanded and that expansion is noted by underlining; in the collation, any expansion has been made without comment. Throughout the text variations in words, changes in case, number, person, tense, voice and mood, additions, omissions, and transpositions have been noted. In addition, for the first 100 lines all significant dialectal and spelling variations have also been noted.^ The base manuscript, University College 64, was chosen because it is a Northern manuscript and thus more closely reflective of Rolle's Yorkshire dialect, and for the fact that it contained fewer unique readings than the two other purely Northern manuscripts, Oxford Hatton 12 and Eton College 10. The base manuscript is a small folio of the fifteenth century in a clear hand, consisting of 136 leaves with two columns of 44 to 51 lines. No student has seriously challenged Rolle's authorship of the work and it is generally agreed that he wrote it between the years 1337 and 1349.^ This study also undertakes to analyze Rolle's style and to come to a more exact appreciation of the place of his Psalter in the history of English prose. This necessarily involves the question of the degree to which the work is a translation of Rolle's acknowledged sources and the degree to which it is original. Middendorf's thesis that Rolle's commentary is dependent upon Peter the Lombard is amply illustrated in the commentary but this dependence, though pervasive, is alleviated by frequent introductions of personal remarks and topical allusions. Rolle's personal idiom and his obvious talent for crisp epitome lend an air of novelty to the work. Rolle's own conservatism, added to the nature of psalm commentary itself, produces a style often lacking in ease, spontaneity, and even clarity. Skillful passages of some beauty do occur, though the rarity of these and the generally uneven quality of the commentary lend credence to the belief that the work is among the first of Rolle's English writings. Even in this flawed work, however, his English prose is modern in syntax and arrangement and often contains those rhetorical embellishments of alliteration, antithesis, balance and parallelism for which he is famous. ^

Subject Area

Literature, English

Recommended Citation

ELLEN ALANA CARNEY, "RICHARD ROLLE'S ENGLISH PSALTER, PSALMS 91 - 105: AN EDITION WITH AN INTRODUCTORY ESSAY ON ROLLE'S STYLE" (January 1, 1980). ETD Collection for Fordham University. Paper AAI8020052.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8020052

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