The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Beidler, Peter G. "William Cartwright, Washington Irving, and the 'Truth': A Shadow Allusion to Chaucer's Canon's Yeoman's Tale." 29 (1995): 434-39.
The epigraph to Irving's "Rip Van Winkle" borrows from Chaucer's Canon's Yeoman's Tale, though Irving was probably not aware of the derivation of his quotation. Rather, he took the epigraph from a seventeenth-century play by William Cartwright. Irving treats the subject of truth in a manner similar to that of Chaucer.
Calabrese, Michael A. "Meretricious Mixtures: Gold, Dung, and the Canon's Yeoman's Prologue and Tale." 27 (1993): 277-92.
Examination of the Canon's Yeoman's Tale in light of the Antiovidianus reveals an "exploration of the tension between art and morality that engaged [Chaucer] throughout his poetic career" (278). The primary point of attack for the writer of Antiovidianus is Ovid's ability to turn "dung" into golden poetry, a direct contradiction of the traditional way of reading pagan poetry. Thus Chaucer's portrayal of the Canon's work parallels the Antiovidianus writer's view of Ovid's works. The Yeoman also connects sexuality to the acquisition of such an art.
Collette, Carolyn. "Seeing and Believing in the Franklin's Tale." 26 (1992): 395-410.
Readers can examine the Franklin's Tale in terms of medieval theories of sight, vision, and will. Chaucer's focus on sight and the illusions of appearance is an original addtion to the source material in the Filostrato, and Historia regnum Britanniae. Dorigen's complaint revolves around her perception of the rocks. Her agreement with Aurelius uses the different perceptions among people and also engages the appearance and reality debate, as does the episode with the Clerk of Orleans. For those living in the Middle Ages, "sight was the chief of the physical senses" (401). By Chaucer's time, people valued mystical insight in a neo-Platonic way. The neo-Platonic tradition conflicted with Aristotelian views in which sight corresponded to reality, and created new opinions regarding how sight and experience became knowledge. In the fourteenth century people became fascinated by optical science and how the ability to see physically interacts with mental acuity of perception. The ability to see was also related to the will and a person's ability to perceive truth, as Augustine shows in De trinitate. Dorigen's obsession with the sight of the rocks creates a situation in which the marriage vow is questioned, thereby engaging this debate. Chaucer also examines sight and perception in the Second Nun's Tale and the Canon's Yeoman's Tale.
Cook, Robert. "The Canon's Yeoman and His Tale." 22 (1987): 28-40.
In the Canon's Yeoman's Tale the teller is most important. Like the Wife of Bath and the Pardoner, the Canon's Yeoman is self-revealing. Unlike the Pardoner and the Wife, the Canon's Yeoman is slowly changing his life, repudiating alchemy. He shows a desire to avoid becoming a false alchemist and to warn others of the evils of alchemy. These concerns affect the way he tells his tale.
Dean, James. "Spiritual Allegory and Chaucer's Narrative Style: Three Test Cases." 18 (1984): 273-87.
Although Chaucer rarely develops allegory to the fullest extent, he creates shadings of allegory that deepen his works. Such shadings can be found in the Friar's, Pardoner's, and Canon's Yeoman's Tales.
Grenberg, Bruce L. "The Canon's Yeoman's Tale: Boethian Wisdom and the Alchemists." 1 (1966): 37-54.
Chaucer uses the Canon's Yeoman's Tale to make concrete Boethius's concern with the search for the earthly world as opposed to the search for God. To this end, Chaucer writes two kinds of alchemists into Canon's Yeoman's Tale. The first type of alchemist is a true philosopher to whom God has given heavenly wisdom through grace; the second is a false imitator who, without God's grace, attempts to discover the secrets of the universe. The satire of the false alchemists begins with their link to religion and continues as they use clerical language and display clerical attitudes in alchemy. In the course of the tale, the spiritual poverty of the canon becomes increasingly apparent. The Yeoman's complaints that his work has produced nothing of consequence finally lead him to look for truth; as in Boethius, earthly downfall brings wisdom. When the Yeoman finishes his tale, the reader recognizes the Yeoman's "conversion" from a search for falsehood to a search for truth--that is for God.
Hartung, Albert E. "'Pars Secunda' and the Development of the Canon Yeoman's Tale." 12 (1977): 111-28.
Comparison of the manuscripts shows that the Canon Yeoman's Tale probably was not originally part of the Canterbury Tales. Chaucer's characterization of the Canon's Yeoman, however, allows for the introduction of the Canon Yeoman's Tale to the Canterbury Tales, explains the presence of what seem to be two canons, not one, and sheds light on the Tale of Melibee.
Haskell, Ann S. "The St. Giles Oath in the Canon's Yeoman's Tale." 7 (1973): 221-26.
The oath which the Canon's Yeoman swears by St. Giles supports the idea that alchemists are social outcasts. By its placement in the description of an alchemical process, it also draws attention to the sinful nature of the coupling of elements with which the Canon intends to trick the priest. The oath emphasizes the spiritual side of alchemy, since the alchemist's purity had direct effects on the metal he wished to purify. St. Giles was the patron saint of lepers and lechers and was associated with fennel, an aphrodisiac and cure for eye disease. St. Giles was also reported to have achieved pardon for a sin so terrible it could not be confessed. The St. Giles oath points to charity and chastity.
Hilberry, Jane. "'And in oure madnesse everemoore we rave': Technical Language in the Canon's Yeoman's Tale." 21 (1987): 435-43.
In the Canon's Yeoman's Tale Chaucer shows "the appealing, poetic quality of alchemical language" (435). Like the Franklin, Pertelote, and the narrator of House of Fame, the Canon's Yeoman is clearly attracted to the sound of technical language, though he recognizes alchemy as dangerous.
Lionarons, Joyce Tally. "Magic, Machines, and Deception: Technology in the Canterbury Tales." 27 (1993): 377-86.
Because magic and machinery were associated with secrecy, in the Canterbury Tales they help aid in trickery, as in the Squire's Tale. The horse of brass seems to be a technological marvel simply because knowledge of how it works is unavailable to common people. Often such knowledge was used for practical jokes, but occasionally such knowledge could create trouble, as in the Franklin's Tale when the Clerk of Orleans removes the rocks. Like the horse in the Squire's Tale, the disappearance of the rocks was beyond the reach of medieval technology. In the Canon's Yeoman's Tale readers experience the full development of a technological distrust.
Longsworth, Robert M. "Privileged Knowledge: St. Cecilia and the Alchemist in the Canterbury Tales." 27 (1992): 87-96.
The Canon's Yeoman's Tale and the Second Nun's Tale both treat transformation. In the Canon's Yeoman's Tale alchemy is presented as fraud with only monetary consequences for the dupe. The Canon's Yeoman is careful to show the abuse of fundamental principles. In the Second Nun's Tale transformation has mortal consequences for believers, and as a result deals with a double epistemology. Believers can see what non-believers cannot. The narrator is responsible for the presentation of these two kinds of knowledge. The narrator of the Second Nun's Tale merely claims that he is reporting from a source, probably Jacobus de Voragine, whereas the narrator of the Canon's Yeoman's Tale is making a confession.
Olson, Glending. "Chaucer, Dante, and the Structure of Fragment VIII (G) of the Canterbury Tales." 16 (1982): 222-36.
The Canon's Yeoman's and the Second Nun's Tales are closely linked by imagery and theme. Cecilia's effort to convert the people around her from pagans to Christians, a work of eternal value, is the reverse parallel to the alchemical process of turning base metals to gold, a labor of earthly value. Examination of the Canon's Yeoman's Tale reveals significant borrowings from Dante's Inferno, though Chaucer never indicates to his readers that the Canon's Yeoman goes to Purgatory. Finally, the Canon's Yeoman finally realizes his human limitations.
Rosenberg, Bruce A. "The Contrary Tales of the Second Nun and the Canon's Yeoman." 2 (1968): 278-91.
Though the Second Nun's Tale seems to reveal little complexity or artistry, when read in conjunction with the Canon's Yeoman's Tale, it demonstrates both. St. Cecile's story may be read in terms of alchemy: her body (base material) must be "mortified" so that her soul (the perfect thing) may ascend to heaven. Chaucer also develops a contrast between sight and blindness. Cecilia can see spiritually, but the Canon's Yeoman sees only physically. The link between these two tales is that they show two polarities.