Guy Of Warwick And Other Chapbook Romances
Six Tales from the Popular Literature of Pre-Industrial England
Edited by John Simons
Subjects: English and American Literature
Chapbooks formed the staple reading matter of ordinary people during the eighteenth and much of the nineteenth centuries; they were also read by children of the gentry. They included fiction, almanacs, religious guidance and radical political tracts, and were available throughout the British Isles and in colonial America.
The chapbook romances included in this volume derive from tales of chivalric adventure and courtly love current in the Middle Ages or the Renaissance. They have features in common with similar texts which were available all over Europe.
The six chapbooks in this volume all derive from romances which were current in the Middle Ages or the Renaissance, and provide a fascinating window on the mental world of rural England and America before the advent of mass media. No previous attempt has been made to produce the full text of a selection of chapbooks for the modern reader; they have remained the province of specialist bibliographers and antiquarians.
Contents: Guy of Warwick (prose); Guy of Warwick (verse); The Seven Champions of Christendome; Parismus; Valentine and Orson; The Seven Wise Masters of Rome.
"John Simons's edited collection of eighteenth-century chapbooks seeks to provide an insight into the reading habits of the pre-industrial rural and urban poor. . . In keeping with his expressed intention of replicating as closely as possible the original reading experience, Simons pursues a non-interventionist editorial policy retaining all misprints. . . Throughout his introduction and notes, Simons highlights the way in which the chapbooks perpetuated the motifs and concerns of medieval and Renaissance chivalric romance, whilst adapting the narratives for an eighteenth-century and non-élite readership."
(Notes and Queries Volume 46, Number 4, December 1999)
John Simons is Head of the School of Humanities and Arts, Edge Hill College of Higher Education.