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Complete and Full with Numbers

The Narrative Poetry of Robert Henryson

John MacQueen

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.