Fiction, theology, and social practice
Author: Mary Raschko

The politics of Middle English parables examines the dynamic intersection of fiction, theology, and social practice in translated Gospel stories. Parables occupy a prominent place in Middle English literature, appearing in dream visions and story collections as well as in lives of Christ and devotional treatises. While most scholarship approaches these scriptural stories as stable vehicles of Christian teachings, this book characterises Gospel parables as ambiguous, riddling stories that invited audience interpretation and inspired the construction of new, culturally inflected narratives. In parables related to labour, social inequality, charity, and penance, the book locates a creative theological discourse through which writers reconstructed scriptural stories and, in doing so, attempted to shape Christian belief and practice. Analysis of these diverse retellings reveals not what a given parable meant in a definitive sense but rather how Middle English parables inscribe the ideologies, power structures, and cultural debates of late medieval Christianity.

The parable of Dives and Lazarus
Mary Raschko

Examinations of social conscience 105 3 Examinations of social conscience: the parable of Dives and Lazarus And in as mychel as her state was diuers her in þis werlde, by als mychel is it dyuers in þat oþer werlde. (Pepysian Gospel Harmony, p. 64)1 While Middle English renditions of the Prodigal Son parable broadly encouraged penitential actions, the retellings highlighted in this chapter make more specific claims about the sins for which people should repent. The parable of the Rich Man (Dives) and Lazarus (Luke 16:19–31) features an alarming inversion of

in The politics of Middle English parables
The parable of the Labourers in the Vineyard
Mary Raschko

Teaching unreasonable tales 27 1 Teaching unreasonable tales: the parable of the Labourers in the Vineyard Me þynk þy tale vnresounable; Goddez ryȝt is redy and euermore rert, Oþer holy wryt is bot a fable. In sauter is sayd a verce ouerte Þat spekez a poynt determynable: ‘Þou quytez vchon as hys desserte, Þou hyȝe Kyng ay pertermynable.’ (Pearl 590–6)1 When the maiden in the Middle English poem Pearl concludes her rendition of the parable of the Labourers in the Vineyard (Matt 20:1–16), the Dreamer quickly denounces it as an ‘vnresounable’ tale. His reaction

in The politics of Middle English parables
Abstract only
Writing parabolic fiction: Langland’s pardon episode
Mary Raschko

216 The politics of Middle English parables Epilogue Writing parabolic fiction: Langland’s pardon episode I have argued that parables, within the context of the Gospels, share certain dynamics that generated the varied acts of revision and cultural negotiation featured throughout this book: Gospel parables are often explicitly metaphoric, they portray familiar scenes from everyday life, yet they render that familiar world strange or unfamiliar. In essence, the form of Gospel parables intensifies the interpretive work involved in their translation. As writers

in The politics of Middle English parables
Abstract only
The parable of the Good Samaritan
Mary Raschko

142 The politics of Middle English parables 4 Ethical allegories: the parable of the Good Samaritan … and siþþe þus I hym tolde How þat feiþ fleiȝ awey and Spes his felawe boþe For sighte of þe sorweful segge þat robbed was with þeues. ‘Haue hem excused’, quod he; ‘hir help may litel auaille.’ (Piers Plowman B 17.90b–93)1 To an even greater degree than the story of Dives and Lazarus, the Good Samaritan parable (Luke 10:25–37) appears on its surface to be a moral exemplum: it showcases charitable good living, almost hyperbolically, and ends with an explicit

in The politics of Middle English parables
The parable of the Prodigal Son
Mary Raschko

64 The politics of Middle English parables 2 Stories for revising the self: the parable of the Prodigal Son Þerfore, modur, turne aȝeyn into þeself as þulke ȝonger broþer dide, and sei wiþ him ‘Hou many seruauntis in Crist, my Fadres, hous hauen plente of loues … and I perische for hunger. I shal arise’ wiþ sorwe of herte and schrift of mouþe and satisfaccioun of dede, and so ‘I shal go to my Fadur Crist.’ (Book to a Mother, p. 101)1 Like the parable of the Labourers in the Vineyard, the Prodigal Son story (Luke 15:11–32) could call into question the

in The politics of Middle English parables
The parables of the Wedding Feast and Great Supper
Mary Raschko

Paradox formed into story 177 5 Paradox formed into story: the parables of the Wedding Feast and Great Supper Thus comparisunez Kryst þe kyndom of heuen To þis frelych feste þat fele arn to called; For alle arn laþed luflyly, þe luþer and þe better, Þat euer wern fulȝed in font, þat fest to haue. (Cleanness, 161–4)1 This final chapter returns to the parable of the Wedding Feast (Matt 22:1–14), a story fraught with contradictions, both within the narrative itself and in its relation to other Gospel stories. The Wedding Feast is a paradigmatic parable: it is

in The politics of Middle English parables
Arcadia (1992) and Signals of Distress (1994)
Philip Tew

chap 3 27/7/06 8:18 am Page 75 3 Parables of distress: Arcadia (1992) and Signals of Distress (1994) Arcadia Crace says Arcadia “has less of a hidden life than the other books; it’s less open to interpretation. It’s less ambiguous, less ambivalent.”1 The novel is divided into four parts, ‘The Soap Market,’ ‘Milk and Honey,’ ‘Victor’s City’ and ‘Arcadia.’ The novel opens with the planning for Victor’s eightieth birthday celebration and the party itself. Subsequently it describes the commercial redevelopment and destruction by Victor of his past, demolishing

in Jim Crace
Forbidden Planet, Frankenstein, and the atomic age
Dennis R. Perry

be an intertextual match for any number of relevant parables of mad scientists who inadvertently create a monster, or avatar-double, that is beyond control. The film begins as a rescue ship arrives on the planet Altair IV and finds that the only survivor of a previous mission twenty years before is Professor Morbius, who explains that the rest of the crew were killed by some unknown planetary force. Tensions mount between the rescue party and the reclusive scientist, who is busy studying the scientific marvels of a dead race, the Krell

in Adapting Frankenstein
Franz Kafka on the (im)possibility of Law’s self-reflection
Gunther Teubner

The man from the country Let us imagine that the man from the country in Kafka's parable ‘Before the Law’ is not the human individual who has been delivered up to the force of institutionalised legalism (power, morality, religion, etc.), as we find in numerous Kafka interpretations with their somewhat over-hasty role fixation. Let us suppose instead that he is a judge ‘from

in Critical theory and legal autopoiesis