England the Nation is the first book to pay detailed attention to the earlier fourteenth century in England as a literary period in its own right. Thorlack Turville-Petre surveys the wide range of writings by the generation before Chaucer, and explores how English writers in the half-century leading up to the outbreak of the Hundred Years War expressed their concepts of England as a nation, and how they exploited the association between nation, people, and language. At the centre of Turville-Petre's work is a study of the construction of national identity that takes place in the histories written in English. The contributions of romances and saints' lives to an awareness of the nation's past are also considered, as is the question of how writers were able to reconcile their sense of regional identity with commitment to the nation. A final chapter explores the interrelationship between England's three languages, Latin, French and English, at a time when English was attaining the status of the national language. Middle English quotations aare translated into modern English throughout.
England the Nation takes the current debate on nationalism into a new area, and will be of interest to anyone studying medieval English literature and history, as well as the development of nationalism, and the rise of English as a national language.