I’m happy to announce that my article, “‘O perle’: Apostrophe in Pearl“, has been published in the most recent issue of Studies in Philology (113.4). You can find a link to the article on my Publications page. My thanks to Reid Barbour and Caitlin Watt at SiP and to the anonymous readers.
Here’s the abstract:
This article addresses the Pearl-poet’s use of apostrophe in his elegiac dream vision.
Drawing on classical and medieval discussions of this rhetorical device, as well as contemporary poetic criticism, it argues that the trajectory of apostrophe in the poem traces the development of the Mourner-Dreamer as he gains insight from the Pearl-maiden’s lesson and moves toward consolation. The Mourner’s calls to his lost pearl in the proem demonstrate the unproductive cycle of his sorrow. His apostrophes to the Maiden in the early part of his dream similarly threaten to undo the solace he gains in the earthly paradise. By contrast, the Maiden’s three short apostrophes serve an exemplary function and show the Dreamer how to deploy apostrophe without getting caught up in the diversionary aspects of the device. In the closing frame of the poem, the now-awakened Dreamer uses apostrophe in a controlled manner that permits him to turn away from the isolation of grief.