Complete and Full with Numbers

The Narrative Poetry of Robert Henryson


This book presents a major re-examination of the works of the fifteenth-century Scottish poet, Robert Henryson. Encompassing the full range of the poet’s work, Professor John MacQueen opens up previously unexplored areas of both Henryson’s literary practice and his underlying moral and philosophical vision. MacQueen argues that numerology is central to the intellectual landscape that shaped Henryson’s development as a poet, and that numerological patterns and structures are embedded throughout his corpus, revealing themselves not simply in such overtly allegorical works as The Testament of Cresseid, but also in many of the Fables as well. This book therefore recovers for a modern audience qualities to which Henryson’s original readers would have been alert, while at the same time conveying something of the energy and excitement of his intellectual and poetic culture. Through a series of close and sensitive readings of the poems, the book presents an original and lucid account of Henryson’s work that will not only engage specialists in medieval Scottish literature, but will also appeal to a wider readership with broader interests in narrative and poetic form.


EUR €85.00USD $107.00

Review Quotes

”[The study] is essential for scholars of Henryson, constituting as it does a significant, major contribution to the study not just of Robert Henryson but of Medieval Scottish Literature as a whole.” in: Scottish Studies Review, Vol. 8, No. 1, 2007

Table of contents

Note Introduction Tragic Fable Chapter One. The Testament of Cresseid: Justice, the Virgin and the Prison of the Planets The Aesopic Fables Chapter Two. The Jasp of Wisdom: Prologue and The Cock and the Jasp Chapter Three. Of Mice and Men (1): The Paddock and the Mouse Chapter Four. Of Mice and Men (2): The Two Mice Chapter Five. Justice and Retribution: The Sheep and the Dog, The Wolf and the Wether, The Wolf and the Lamb Chapter Six. Prudence and Imprudence: The Preaching of the Swallow Chapter Seven. Prudence, Pity and Piety: The Lion and the Mouse The Beast Epic Chapter Eight. The Equivocation of the Fiend: The Fox, the Wolf and the Husbandman Chapter Nine. The World, the Flesh, the Devil and Lent: The Nekhering (The Fox, the Wolf, and the Cadger) Chapter Ten. The Process of Degeneracy: The Talking of the Tod (The Cock and the Fox, The Fox and the Wolf, The Trial of the Fox) Platonic Myth Chapter Eleven. The Descent of the Soul: The Tale of Orpheus (Orpheus and Eurydice) Conclusion Appendix A Appendix B Bibliography Index