Reading misreadings in Thomas Hoccleve's series

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“Tales about time” is how A. A. Mendilow classifies some modern novels, but it is also a term that aptly describes the narrative frame of Thomas Hoccleve's fifteenth-century poem commonly known as The Series. 1 Much critical attention has focused on the frame, but has been mainly concerned with how to define (medically or rhetorically) Hoccleve's illness. Such focus has neglected how it is the fictional readings and misreadings of the relationships between the past, present, and future significances of the illness that are what this tale is about. What is interesting is that multiple ways of perceiving time are explored, through focus on interactions between episodic, cyclical, linear, causal, and thematic temporal patternings. Reading the poem in this manner exposes how arbitrary critical divisions are between so-called “premodern” and “modern” classifications of temporal consciousness. This essay demonstrates how understanding Hoccleve's use of negotiating inter-relations, conflicts and synchronicities between time discourses enables him to become self-conscious about practices of reading and writing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-22
Number of pages20
JournalEnglish Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2006

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