Speculum 70 (1):68-105 (1995)

Abstract
Scholars have long recognized that riddles were part of literary and intellectual culture in late-medieval England, and considerable effort has been expended to ponder a prominent handful of late-fourteenth-century writings in Latin and English that use them, including John Ergome's commentary on the Vaticinium of “John of Bridlington,” the seditious vernacular letters circulated during the Rising of 1381, and most famously Piers Plowman, all notorious for the use of peculiar and difficult riddles that flaunt their interpretative challenges and the social power of their hermeneutical barriers. Comparatively vast gaps, however, remain in our knowledge of the range, distinctive modes, and customary contexts of riddles in this period, so that the isolated uses of them that have been studied seem, in May McKisack's words about Piers Plowman, to speak “to us from a forgotten world, drowned, mysterious, irrecoverable.”
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DOI 10.2307/2864706
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