Megan G. Leitch
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Remarkable sleep
in Sleep and its spaces in Middle English literature
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The Introduction explores what it means for literary characters such as Malory’s Launcelot and Chaucer’s narrator, among many others, to have a ‘lust’ for sleep. As an object of desire in Middle English literature, sleep is also a generative subject. Representations of figures who long for or are overcome by sleep abound in a range of Middle English genres, from popular romances to Ricardian dream visions, from fabliaux to saints’ lives and biblical drama. As the Introduction shows, one of the most remarkable things about sleep in Middle English textual culture is the extent to which it is remarked upon, in a wide variety of genres, and in ways that bespeak attentiveness to both its performance and its interpretation. The performance of literary sleep animates ethical codes and emotive scripts, and in the ways that it provokes interpretation (both diegetic and exegetic), it is inherently epistemological: it contributes to what and how characters and readers know, and desire to know.

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