The British Library created “Electronic Beowulf,” digital images of the single 11th Century manuscript of this first great English literary masterpiece, and put the whole thing online for a brief time—but now it’s only available on CD-ROM, so if you want to read Beowulf online, you must visit McMaster University’s Beowulf in Hypertext site.
Generally revered as the first great poet of the English language, Chaucer has stymied generations of students intimidated by his 14th century Middle English—the trick is to read it aloud.
Harvard’s Chaucer site offers glossed texts and a great library of source materials, collected for their courses but available to everybody on the Net.
Corpus of Middle English Prose & Verse
“Perle, pleasaunte to prynces paye / To clanly clos in golde so clere,” begins one of our fave Medieval poems, The Pearl. Or, how about the alliterative Morte D’Arthure? This is a rich, rich site, but the University of Michigan Library has restricted access so that the texts are no longer freely available on the Net -- boo-hoo....
The library at Columbia University’s Digital Dante site includes The Divine Comedy in its original Italian & two English translations, plus others of Dante’s works, books he would have read, scholarly works & student papers on Dante.
Dante’s Divine Comedy
Deborah Parker’s The World of Dante at the University of Virginia jazzes up the text of the Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso with tags for searching, inline glossaries of people and places, and lots of illustrations from Gustave Doré and others, as well as an interactive popup of Botticelli’s Chart of Hell.
Dante’s Clickable Inferno
Carthage College’s English department offers a selection of Cantos from the Inferno in Dante's Italian or Allen Mandelbaum’s, Robert Pinsky’s, or John Ciardi’s English translations, or any two of these side-by-side, with hyperlinked notes -- worth hours of wandering! See, for instance, Canto V with Pinsky’s & Dante’s lines paired, or Canto XXXIII, comparing Pinsky’s & Ciardi’s translations.
The text of Langland’s great work, Piers Plowman, is on the Net at the University of Virginia Electronic Text Center and the Humanities Text Initiative’s Corpus of Middle English Prose & Verse. Translations into Modern English are at the Harvard Chaucer Project site.
Luminarium Middle English Anthology
Anniina Jokinen's labor of love is a beautiful multimedia collection of photos, introductory essays, texts and critical resources covering Chaucer, Sir Gawain & the Green Knight, Langland, anonymous Medieval lyrics & more. The very best place to start your study of medieval literature on the Net.
Paul Halsall's extensive online Sourcebook offers such hard-to-find resources as the Prologue to the Canterbury Tales in parallel text, Chaucer's Middle English lined up beside a modern translation.
The Pearl Poet
Paul Deane’s Forgotten Ground Regained, “a treasury of alliterative & accentual poetry” both classic & new, offers its editor’s own translation of the Pearl Poet’s greatest work, Sir Gawain & the Green Knight.
For the 700th anniversary of his birth in 2004, the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Yale put together a wonderful online Petrarch exhibition, curated by Dennis Dutschke, which includes a bio, bibliography, & gallery of manuscripts & books from the collection.