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Blind Harry and "The Wallace"

John Balaban
The Chaucer Review
Vol. 8, No. 3 (Winter, 1974), pp. 241-251
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25093271
Page Count: 11
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Blind Harry and
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Abstract

The author of the fifteenth century Scottish epic poem "The Wallace" is one Blind Harry the Minstrel who describes himself as a simple "burel" man. Study of the 11,000 line poem reveals that he was neither blind nor simple, but that he had read Chaucer and other literature thoroughly. His name is probably an alias for someone at the Scottish court who flourished between 1470 and 1500. His alias leads back to Celtic mythology and to the kind of fantastical hero whom we see in his own portrayal of William Wallace in the latter's struggle against the English. Blind Harry blended Chaucerian literary conventions and folk myth to make a deliberately preposterous history which would make William Wallace seem, in the popular mind, to be of far greater significance in the struggle against the English than Wallace actually was.

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