Anonymous, Prik of Conscience

Nancy Haijing Jiang (Northwestern University)
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The Prick of Conscience is a Middle English poem of nearly 10,000 lines that divides into seven sections, with each section detailing, in turn, the wretchedness of humanity, the world’s fallibility, death, purgatory, God’s judgement, hell, and heaven. Its original dialect locates the poem’s composition in the northern Vale of York around the second quarter of the fourteenth century. While considered to be a fairly obscure text today, the Prick, at 118 complete manuscripts, boasts of more manuscript witnesses than any other work of Middle English verse. Copies of this Northern poem can be traced to locations in Sussex, Devonshire, and Dublin—a geographical spread which suggest not only a vast but …

2491 words

Citation: Haijing Jiang, Nancy. "Prik of Conscience". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 28 March 2023 [, accessed 31 March 2023.]

39417 Prik of Conscience 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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