The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Andreas, James R. "'Wordes betwene': The Rhetoric of the Canterbury Links." 29 (1994): 45-64.
Bakhtin's theories of discourse are presaged in the works of Geoffrey of Vinsauf from which Chaucer borrows in the Canterbury Tales. This foreshadowing is most clear in Chaucer's views of language in which the word becomes a magical illusion allowing "the living and the dead [to] speak to one another through the magical medium of the utterance" (45). Such conversation is most apparent in the links between the Canterbury Tales. The feast metaphor accurately describes the amplificatio present throughout the tales. Chaucer also seems to use Vinsauf's trope of expolitio, in that Chaucer implies something is more important that what he says. Both Vinsauf and Bakhtin posit that the "most crucial aspect of languge . . . is the fact that it can . . . replicate itself with ever finer gradations of meaning and expression" (50). For Chaucer the activity of translation provides an opportunity for renewal which creates delight. The links between the tales not only provide the opportunity for dialogue, but they also characterize and aculturate each speaker. The nature of speech as dialogue is most apparent in the Man of Law's Prologue. The links also provide a space in the narrative for laughter to occur.
Andrew, Malcom. "Context and Judgment in the General Prologue." 23 (1989): 316-37.
The study of the Canterbury Tales has gone in some unsatisfactory directions because critics have "assumed a context in order to establish an interpretation" (317). Many scholars have attempted to focus on finding answers to detailed questions, such as the identity of the Tabard. This activity primarily creates a context for a particular interpretation, but often contexts so made are difficult to limit. Chaucer scholars often attempt to define a moral purpose for the Canterbury Tales, an activity that also leads to limiting the text. Though such kinds of interpretation have led to a greater understanding of the text, they have limited the text unnecessarily.
Brown, Emerson, Jr. "Chaucer, the Merchant, and Their Tale: Getting Beyond Old Controversies: Part II." 13 (1979): 247-62.
The "L'Envoy de Chaucer a Bukton" contains statements about women similar to those made by the Merchant, suggesting that Chaucer cannot be so easily separated from the narrator of the Merchant's Tale as some previous scholars have thought.
Caie, Graham D. "The Significance of the Early Chaucer Manuscript Glosses (with Special Reference to the Wife of Bath's Prologue)." 10 (1976): 350-60.
The glosses in the manuscripts of the Canterbury Tales are carefully written, and are of similar size as the text of the tales themselves. Quotes from Jerome constitute most of the glosses on the Wife of Bath's Prologue, suggesting that the scribe did not want the reader to be convinced by the Wife's logic. The glosses also highlight the Wife's misinterpretation of Old and New Testament passages.
Clark, John W. "'This litel tretys' Again." 6 (1971): 152-56.
The differences to which the narrator refers in Melibee are those between the previous versions of the tale and not the differences between this tale and the ones that precede it in the order of the Canterbury Tales. The phrase "this litel tretys" does not refer to the Canterbury Tales as a whole.
Cohen, Edward S. "The Sequence of the Canterbury Tales." 9 (1974): 190-94.
Manuscript ordering may be clarified by examining place references in the fragments. Since the pilgrims must reach Sittingbourne on the penultimate day of travel, Fragment C cannot follow Fragment F. To accommodate references to specific places, Fragment C must follow Fragment B1. This ordering suggests solutions to other difficulties related to time and indicates that Chaucer must have been working around a group of untold tales.
Cooper, Helen. "Chaucer and Joyce." 21 (1986): 142-54.
Chaucer's Canterbury Tales and James Joyce's Ulysses share a focus on naturalism, a recognition on the author's part that language is highly metaphorical, and the use of revered past works. Both works are structured in naturalistic terms and attempt to show the spectrum of their societies. Joyce and Chaucer use a wide variety of styles, demonstrating authorial virtuosity. Each author also includes a section in which he parodies accepted forms. Chaucer does not expect his readers to know his narrative sources, as Joyce expects readers to know Ulysses. Both authors do expect their readers to recognize their allusions.
Cox, Lee Sheridan. "A Question of Order in the Canterbury Tales." 1 (1967): 228-52.
The critical debate regarding the identity of the interrupter in the Man of Law's endlink has been endless. The candidates have been the Wife of Bath, the Shipman, the Squire, and the Summoner. The argument for the Shipman rests on the assumption that his tale was first assigned to the Wife, but later transferred to the Shipman when she was given another tale. Differences in manuscripts complicate the problem, but one can show that the Man of Law-Shipman theory rests on the best and generally most authoritative manuscripts.
Delasanta, Rodney. "The Horsemen of the Canterbury Tales." 3 (1968): 29-36.
The pilgrims and their horses are described in such detail as to suggest meaning beyond the traditional assertion that the horse is the libidinous body and the rider, holding the bridle, is the reasonable faculty. The quality of the horse and the appearance of its rider relate to the example of Jesus entering Jerusalem on a donkey's colt: each rider's spiritual understanding is mirrored in his/her dress and horse.
Dwyer, Richard A. "The Appreciation of Handmade Literature." 8 (1974): 221-40.
In creating physical texts, medieval scribes believed themselves capable of filling in textual gaps. Scholars must, therefore, be aware of the scribes' participation as manuscripts were remade. Medieval writers were not concerned with the "final" version of a text, since revisions were made later by scribes. In Piers Plowman, the different versions show scribes who, enthusiastic about older forms, attempted to align Langland's text with those forms and so "fix" the manuscript. Scribal "fine-tuning" to make significant changes in the manuscript is also a problem for those studying the Canterbury Tales and Troilus and Criseyde. The changes made to "Luf es Lyf" by Rolle show how selecting verses from different poems and putting them together can allow the scribe to create his own work. The resulting inconsistencies seem even more the product of a person who is madly in love. Examination of Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy demonstrates how scribes popularized it by lifting sections from model versions and attaching them to newer transcriptions. For example, Jean de Meun's proheme appears in several manuscripts as does William of Conches commentary. Mixed prose versions eventually led to verse translations. Renaud de Louhans questionings of Boethius's rigorous stand eventually led Renaud to replace Fortune with Death, thus making the tale more accessible to those not of aristocratic background.
Eberle, Patricia J. "Commercial Language and the Commercial Outlook in the General Prologue." 18 (1983): 161-74.
The references to money in the Canterbury Tales show Chaucer's assumptions of a financially sophisticated audience aware of venal satire. In the courtly love tradition, money was spoken of only as a reward or gift, and commercial activities were ignored. The fabliau maintains this distinction, since characters focus on spending and earning. The General Prologue, however, assumes characteristics of both romance and fabliau, thus implying that Chaucer wrote for an audience that would appreciate both traditions. The Host points out that time is money and that poetry is idleness. The pilgrims treat each other in such a way as to suggest that professions, and therefore money, are closely linked to who people are.
Eisner, Sigmund. "Canterbury Day: A Fresh Aspect." 27 (1992): 31-44.
References in the text clearly indicate that the pilgrimage to Canterbury took place on a single day. Given the information in the text, and in the Equatorie of the Planetis, the Treatise on the Astrolabe, and Nicholas Lynn's Kalendarium, the date and year of the pilgrimage can be fixed as April 18, 1394.
Eisner, Sigmund. "The Ram Revisited: A Canterbury Conundrum." 28 (1994): 330-43.
Readers must realize that the sign of the Ram and the constellation of the Ram are completely different. The date given by the placement of the Ram at the beginning of the Canterbury Tales is April 17, but the references to the stars function on two different levels. On one level Chaucer tells about the mid-point of Aries. On the other Chaucer creates a pilgrimage between Aries and Libra, telling of the lifespan of humankind.
Farrell, Thomas J. "The 'Envoy de Chaucer' and the Clerk's Tale." 24 (1990): 329-36.
Scribes never regarded "Lenvoy de Chaucer" at the end of the Clerk's Tale as an integral part of the tale. In some manuscripts the Envoy is even left off entirely. The shift in verse form indicates that the Envoy is separate from the tale. Because the Clerk is so careful to identify Petrarch as his source, the attribution of the Envoy to Chaucer clarifies the originality of the Envoy in keeping with the sensitivity to authority. The Envoy clearly shows that the Clerk's Tale must be considered a response to the Wife of Bath, but the Envoy must be thought of as a separate entity from the tale while indicating that the parts of the Canterbury Tales can be read as intersecting intertextually.
Finlayson, John. "The Satiric Mode and the Parson's Tale." 6 (1971): 94-116.
The Parson's Tale must be read in light of the Canterbury Tales as a whole. In writing effective satire, Chaucer provides a norm for his pilgrims in the Knight, the Plowman, and the Parson, but readers must also recognize the corresponding vice. For the Canterbury Tales, however, readers should see that the satire is only partially based on moral judgment. The Knight, as the first portrait, presents an ideal that the following portraits wear away. Refusing to position the pilgrims in a particular order of vice or virtue suggests, however, that people are neither wholly good nor wholly bad, but mixtures of both. By placing the Parson's Tale at the end, Chaucer reminds his readers of the norm, but also indicates that the pilgrims are not allegories for vices or virtues, but portraits of human beings. Further examination of the tale reveals that it does not give readers a key to the work and that the norm it asserts is "in process" (111). The Parson, then, is a person as well, not merely the norm dressed up to look like a person.
Fisher, John H. "The Three Styles of Fragment I of the Canterbury Tales." 8 (1973): 119-27.
John of Garland sets out three distinctions of style determined by class: courtiers, citizens, and rural folk. Though scholars are not sure that Chaucer knew Garland, the Knight's, Miller's, and Reeve's Tales can be shown to represent his distinctions. Close reading of the Knight's and Miller's Tales shows how the Miller's Tale parodies the Knight's Tale point for point. The Reeve's Tale is of the lowest class, depicting only animal passion. Examining the Summoner's Tale in light of class influences on language and behavior tells readers why it focuses on scatalogical rather than sexual humor. Garland's distinctions provide an additional way to examine the Canterbury Tales.
Grudin, Michaela Paasche. "Chaucer's Manciple's Tale and the Poetics of Guile." 25 (1991): 329-42.
The Manciple's Tale "explains and reinforces" the poetic principles present in the Canterbury Tales (330). The tale is built on fallen language; if it is about silence, there is a multitude of words within it. The action focuses the attention of the audience on truth and the act of speaking the truth. Though Chaucer suggests that society is not entirely comfortable with truth, he accentuates the creative, mimetic voice. Chaucer constructs the tale to remind his audience of his position as a court poet, and the tale shows Chaucer's awareness of corruption and the danger of instructing kings. The amplifications that seem to disrupt the tale remind readers of the need for slyness and care in political arenas. Phoebus is completely disconnected from such impulses. Without the discernment to pierce deception, Phoebus ultimately has no perception. Chaucer thus demonstrates how poets can "survive," but never resolves the question of truth-telling (339).
Haines, R. Michael. "Fortune, Nature, and Grace in Fragment C." 10 (1976): 220-35.
When responding to the Pardoner's Tale, the Host does not mention the gifts of Grace, because Grace brings life, but Fortune and Nature bring death. His comments do, however, suggest a unifying theme for the Canterbury Tales. In the Physician's Tale, Virginia exemplifies the gifts of both Grace and Nature. Fortune uses Apius; Grace (mis)uses Virginius who allows Virginia to remain a virgin without forcing her to commit suicide, thus helping her to avoid a mortal sin. The Physician's Tale makes the point "that one must be prepared to die by living in Grace, free from sin" (226). The Pardoner's Tale shows the subversion of Fortune's, Nature's, and Grace's gifts. The Pardoner's three sins, gluttony, gambling, and swearing, are ultimately profanations of Nature, Fortune, and Grace respectively. The three revelers also pervert these gifts. Chaucer treats these gifts in the Man of Law's Tale, the Second Nun's Tale, the Prioress's Tale, and the Monk's Tale as well.
Harrington, Norman T. "Experience, Art, and the Framing of the Canterbury Tales." 10 (1975): 187-200.
To determine the meaning of the Canterbury Tales, readers must examine the framing device. Chaucer believed that art and experience complement each other in the search for truth. Thus, he uses the links between the tales to contrast the art of the tales with the experience of the pilgrimage. Chaucer also contrasts tale styles to comment on class and social behaviors.
Hoffman, Richard L. "Jephthah's Daughter and Chaucer's Virginia." 2 (1967): 20-31.
By paying attention to the small amount of biblical study the Physician has performed as well as the brief reference to Jephthah in his tale, one can say that the Physician's Tale was intended to be part of the Canterbury Tales, that it should follow the Franklin's Tale, that Chaucer made changes to make it more "artistic," and that the line describing the Physician's Bible study is not out of place. The reference to Jephthah's daughter not only demonstrates that the Physician is primarily concerned about the body as opposed to the soul, but it also relates Virginia to Dorigen by giving her an example of conduct which seems as poorly related to her situation as Dorigen's exempla are to hers.
Joseph, Gerhard. "Chaucerian 'Game'-'Earnest' and the 'Argument of herbergage' in the Canterbury Tales." 5 (1970): 83-96.
Chaucer perceives human space in two opposing ways, best seen in the difference between tales of "game" and those of "earnest" of which the tales in Fragment A are a good example. In the Knight's Tale, the amplification of time suggests a movement to order which underlines the suggestion that space can reduce passion. In the Knight's Tale, Chaucer also follows Boethius in suggesting that human space is prison; thus the enclosures become objective-correlatives for the prison of this life. In the fabliaux, however, restricted areas become places of joining between man and woman. Perspective determines how people see human space: from a serious point of view, life is prison; from a light-hearted outlook, life is endless space. The contest between the movement to the shrine (serious) and return to the tavern (light-hearted) suggests that these two views are so closely mixed that to attempt a separation is foolish.
Keiser, George R. "In Defense of the Bradshaw Shift." 12 (1978): 191-201.
In accepting the Ellesmere order, critics must deal with the absence of the Man of Law's Endlink, references to Rochester and Sittingbourne, and feminine pronouns. Merely adding the Endlink and altering the order takes a critic beyond manuscript authority. Connecting the Man of Law's Endlink to the Shipman's Tale removes the problem of place references and creates a more unified grouping.
Koban, Charles. "Hearing Chaucer Out: The Art of Persuasion in the Wife of Bath's Tale." 5 (1971): 225-39.
In oral delivery, Chaucer found a way to contemplate human difficulties and to educate his audience. In addition to plot, exemplary materials not integrally related to the plot indicate that Chaucer intended his audience to think about larger issues. In addition, precise statements of thought indicate "controlling ideas or problems" (227). Readers may see the Canterbury Tales in blocks that develop larger themes. By examining the Pardoner's Tale, we discover the oral method that Chaucer probably used. The Wife of Bath's Tale demonstrates how Chaucer combines plot, thought, and examples to persuade his audience. Chaucer organizes these materials in a way that indicates an oral delivery as opposed to a written one. He also focuses on the relations between men and women (human problem) instead of the comic elements. Such a focus also makes readers ignore the question of whether or not the teller fits the tale. When examined structurally, the materials which present models to the audience slow the progress of the plot, thus allowing readers/ hearers to think about the greater human problems presented. The young knight's quest, then, becomes the individual's search for purpose, dignity, and self-determination.
McGrady, Donald. "Chaucer and the Decameron Reconsidered." 12 (1977): 1-26.
Careful readers must reconsider the assumption that the Decameron is only marginally related to the Canterbury Tales. Likewise, the argument that Chaucer would not have known the Decameron because Boccaccio regretted writing it and wanted to prevent it from circulating must be rejected. Given the contacts Chaucer had with Florentine businessmen, he very likely read the Decameron before his first trip to Italy. Close reading of the Clerk's, Franklin's, Miller's, Merchant's, and Shipman's Tales reveals Chaucer's debt to Boccaccio's Decameron for elements which do not appear in any of Chaucer's other sources. The Miller's Tale, particularly borrows from three books of the Decameron. Chaucer seems, however, to have limited himself to borrowing details from the Decameron, perhaps in an effort to maintain a reputation for being an original poet.
Middleton, Anne. "The Physician's Tale and Love's Martyrs: 'Ensamples mo than ten' in the Canterbury Tales." 8 (1973): 9-32.
The Physician's Tale seems to fall between the saints' legends and the tales of love's martyrs. Chaucer changes his sources to shift emphasis from Appius and Virginius to Virginia, thus making her a secular saint. To the Host, Virginia's death demonstrates injustice and questions the relationship between earthly rewards and good behavior. The changes in the tale's construction demand that readers consider Appius' fate and Virginius' behavior, in light of the injustice done to Virginia. The Host's comments draw attention to the contrast between classical and Christian virtues, making the inconsistency between Virginia's virtuous acts and her passive sacrifice the focus of the tale. The digressions on child-rearing are out of place, contrasting passive children with Virginia's activity. Virginius behaves as a judge or deity, not a father, drawing more attention to Virginia as passive victim and dramatizing the contest between natural affection and obedience to authority. The Physician's portrayal of the Jepthah story, however, demonstrates his ignorance of the exegetical treatment of this story. The Man of Law's Tale demonstrates that Chaucer often roughens the surface of an exemplum to suggest that readers explore it more deeply. Virginia, then, becomes a type of Job. Like the Legend of Good Women, the Physician's Tale shows Chaucer's command of narrative techniques, particularly the ability to deal with "shocking" subjects, but as the prologue to Legend suggests, Chaucer's contemporaries venerated him for the more limited skills of "an Ovidian court poet" (30). Readers are not meant to take conclusions from the tale to the "outside" world, but to play with the assumptions governing the world within the fictional construct of the tale.
Moorman, Charles. "One Hundred Years of Editing the Canterbury Tales." 24 (1989): 99-114.
Editors of Chaucer's works have always made alterations to the texts, some more than others. Often these changes are based solely on editorial preferences, not statistical findings. Those readers who plan to study Chaucer seriously must use the texts they have, maintaining Chaucer's exact wording whether or not it fits the understanding or interpretation editors most cherish.
Myers, D. E. "Focus and 'Moralite' in the Nun's Priest's Tale." 7 (1973): 210-20.
Three hierarchies overlap in the Nun's Priest's Tale. These create three different versions of the tale, "the fable version, the Nun's Priest's version, and Harry Bailly's version" (211). The fable version contains two morals which focus attention only on Chanticleer, thus suggesting that they are marginal to the tale as a whole. Such narrow focus points to the second version of the tale. Rhetoric is central to the Nun's Priest's version of the tale, since it focuses attention on Chanticleer as ruler. Because Chanticleer's story is that of a secular ruler, readers recognize that the Nun's Priest has directed his tale at the Knight. Examination of all of the Canterbury Tales shows that the Host's version addresses the workings of Providence and Fortune. Thus, readers can see the workings of Fortune on each of the three estates. The Nun's Priest, however, does not understand Fortune or Providence. He blames Destiny and Pertelote equally, a logical impossibility. The Host adds another level to the tale by allegorically associating Chanticleer with the Nun's Priest. Thus, the tale becomes a comment on prelates in general and the Nun's Priest in particular. The Nun's Priest's Tale, therefore, turns on its teller.
Owen, Charles A., Jr. "Pre-1450 Manuscripts of the Canterbury Tales: Relationships and Significance (Part I)." 23 (1988): 1-29.
Recent examination of the manuscripts of the Canterbury Tales suggests that readers reconsider of the accepted order. The evidence shows that the Hengwrt scribe and the Ellesmere scribe are not the same and that the primacy of Hengwrt is not incontrovertible.
Owen, Charles A., Jr. "Pre-1450 Manuscripts of the Canterbury Tales: Relationships and Significance (Part II)." 23 (1988): 95-116.
No evidence suggests that any of the d manuscripts are the product of a group of scribes in a shop. The b manuscript group seems to have been produced after 1450. Three methods of manuscript production can be discerned after careful study. First, exemplars were gathered for specific occasions, resulting in manuscripts like Hengwrt, Harley 7334, Cambridge Dd, Ellesmere, and Cambridge Gg. Second, copies were made of pre-existing manuscripts. Third, a manuscript might be the product of amassing "exemplars made for a previous manuscript" (114).
Owen, Charles A., Jr. "The Tale of Melibee." 7 (1973): 267-80.
Chaucer may have translated Melibee between 1386 and 1390 when John of Gaunt was preparing to establish his wife's claim to the Castilian throne; thus Melibee would have been interesting for its significant parallels to Chaucer's situation, and for the figure of Dame Prudence. Melibee also discusses forgiveness, a theme which runs through the Canterbury Tales as a whole. The tale also centers on the moment of decision: Melibee can choose war or the reconciliation which Prudence urges. For all of its allegorical significance, however, the tale never loses the level of literal narrative. Melibee can also be read at the anagogical level as applicable to rulers and nations.
Peterson, Joyce E. "The Finished Fragment: A Reassessment of the Squire's Tale." 5 (1970): 62-74.
Chaucer intentionally made the Squire's Tale a fragment. Examining it in terms of the larger structure of the Canterbury Tales, the narrator's point of view, and the action of tale demonstrate its completeness. Sir Thopas and the Monk's Tale show that intentional fragments result when the listeners or readers become frustrated. The Franklin halts the Squire by pretending his tale is done, showing the Franklin's sensitivity to social rank. The Squire's Tale thus becomes a "thematic link" to the Franklin's Tale. Instead of demonstrating how he is not like Damyan (Merchant's Tale), he shows the weakness of his own morality as it is based on the difference between "vulgarity and elegance, not cupiditas and caritas" (70). The Squire's Tale depicts the carnality of courtly tradition (gentillesse) and the unnaturalness of a caste system. Since the Squire has demonstrated all of this before the Franklin interrupts him, the Franklin can be said to have stopped him at the point where the action ends.
Petty, George R., Jr. "Power, Deceit, and Misinterpretation: Uncooperative Speech in the Canterbury Tales." 27 (1993): 413-23.
Often the responses of Chaucer's characters to certain parts of the narrative reflect deep anxieties about their position in this world in light of power structures and confining discourses. By mistinterpreting texts, they can avoid the discomfort these texts create. Dorigen uses this strategy to avoid Aurelius in the Franklin's Tale; it also appears in the Nun's Priest's Tale, and the Wife of Bath uses it quite successfully. In the end the Parson uses this strategy in the Poetria nova. Chaucer's Retraction is the final instance of this strategy in the Canterbury Tales.
Pichaske, David R., and Laura Sweetland. "Chaucer on the Medieval Monarchy: Harry Bailly in the Canterbury Tales." 11 (1977): 179-200.
Because the Host "rules" the pilgrims (179), readers can examine his behavior and determine Chaucer's attitude towards the monarchy. As the tales progress in the Ellesmere order, readers perceive that the Host changes from tyrannical ruler to good governor. In Group I, the Host's response to the Miller shows him to be a poor ruler, and the domination of the Miller and the Reeve at the end of Group I suggests that the Host is not fit to rule. The Clerk's response to the Host's demand for a tale indicates an awareness of the limits under which a political ruler governs. The Host's response to the Pardoner shows that he has not yet recognized the authority of charity over all the pilgrims. He has, however, become more gentle. When the Host rescues the Cook, he demonstrates the care and concern of a good ruler for his subjects. At the entrance to Canterbury, the heavenly city, the Host relinquishes his rulership of the pilgrims. Readers should not be surprised by the political commentary in the Canterbury Tales, since both the Legend of Good Women and the "Lak of Stedfastnesse" include extended political comments.
Portnoy, Phyllis. "Beyond the Gothic Cathedral: Post-Modern Reflections on the Canterbury Tales." 28 (1994): 279-92.
If readers add time to the elements of a gothic cathedral, they can easily analyze the fragmented narrative of the Canterbury Tales. The Parson's Prologue resolves the temporal dimension in the tales while pushing it into a timeless one. The pilgrims find themselves on a continuum of spiritual health and spiritual sickness. This continuum suggests a hole in the ideology. That the pilgrimage itself cannot escape the forces of disorder is evident in the progression from the Knight's Tale to the Miller's Tale. The Nun's Priest's Tale also raises the question of justice. The Retraction futher contributes to our sense of disorder because Chaucer uses it to remove the authorial mask.
Reiss, Edmund. "The Symbolic Surface of the Canterbury Tales: The Monk's Portrait: Part I." 2 (1968): 254-72.
Chaucer presents his pilgrims with reference to Christian values which they, as pilgrims, should uphold. Examining the characters in light of these values provides additional insights. The anticlerical sentiment becomes much clearer when the reader realizes that the Monk, for example, is surrounded by symbols of his worldly pursuits as opposed to heavenly ones. The bells on his bridle, his disregard for the "old things" of the spirit as opposed to the new things of the world, the animals with which he is associated, and his clothing, all point to fleshly desires which monks should be working to subdue. Understanding the symbolism of details further illuminates the tales and the tale-tellers.
Richardson, Malcolm. "The Earliest Known Owners of Canterbury Tales MSS and Chaucer's Secondary Audience." 25 (1990): 17-32.
Following the death of Chaucer's immediate contemporaries, the two earliest known owners of Chaucer manuscripts were Richard Sotheworth and John Stopyndon who, while not particularly literary or artistic, could appreciate Chaucer's work. Both men were Chancery clerks, a position allowing "advancement, security, patronage, travel, wealth, and . . . a sense of comeraderie and collegial tradition" (23). Records indicate that both men took advantage of their positions as clerks. Furthermore, though they probably considered books mere possessions, they helped to create a community dedicated to "reading, debate, and the written word" (30).
Scala, Elizabeth. "Canacee and the Chaucer Canon: Incest and Other Unnarratables." 30 (1995): 15-39.
The narrative strategy of the Canterbury Tales creates individualized pilgrims and makes readers conscious of Chaucer, the author constructing the narratives. The introduction to the Man of Law's Tale points toward the texts of other authors, such as Gower's Confessio amantis, and even indicates other texts written by Chaucer, the "Legend of Medea" for example. The double indications of the text force readers to remain conscious of the pilgrim and of Chaucer, both tellers of the same tale. The Man of Law's Tale, however, does exactly what he proclaimed it could not. Such denial only highlights the Man of Law's fears about the story he might tell. The reference in the Squire's Tale to Canacee reminds the audience of the incest motif that undergirds the Canterbury Tales. Both tales may be considered in terms of absence: the Man of Law's Tale presents a story it was not going to tell, and the Squire's Tale is not at all about its stated subject. That the Squire's Tale is unfinished merely underscores its subject--gaps and absences. The Squire's use of occupatio draws attention to the weaknesses of such a tradition. In the Squire's Tale, then, reader see the importance of the unnarrated material preceding and following the tale.
Scheps, Walter. "'Up roos oure hoost, and was oure aller cok': Harry Bailly's Tale-Telling Competition." 10 (1975): 113-28.
Though the Host's responses to some of the tales are not recorded in the Canterbury Tales and he never clearly indicates which tale he most enjoys, readers can determine which tale the Host finds to be best. The Host's opinions would be determined by his personality; Chaucer portrays the Host as manly, happy, and unafraid to speak. The criteria for good tales are "sentence and solaas" (117). Certain tales can be eliminated because they put the Host's authority at risk in some way or they are interrupted, and he rejects other tales for a number of other reasons. Ultimately, readers can assume that the Nun's Priest's Tale wins the contest.
Shaw, Judith Davis. "Lust and Lore in Gower and Chaucer." 19 (1984): 110-22.
Chaucer and Gower treat lore differently. Both believe that lore is the wisdom of the past, but Chaucer doubts that lore can be used effectively in modern times. Gower shows no doubt that lore has something to say to his era. Chaucer's characters construe authority (lore) to suit their own ends; Gower's characters display an honest desire to learn. Chaucer and Gower also treat lust differently. Few of the Canterbury Tales combine meaning and delight. Gower avoids complex rhetorical figures, however, and focuses on his text, succeeding in mingling teaching and delight.
Stevens, Martin, and Kathleen Falvey. "Substance, Accident, and Transformations: A Reading of the Pardoner's Tale." 17 (1982): 142-58.
In the Pardoner's Tale, Chaucer deals with Sophism. The exemplum shows the Pardoner as a sinner. Ultimately, the tale makes death out of eternal life. The tavern situation in which the Pardoner tells his tale parodies the opening of the Canterbury Tales and the pilgrimage itself. Readers can trace the imagery of transformation from life to death throughout the tale. The tale also contains elements of the Black Mass. These elements reduce Christ's sacrifice to the merely physical.
Strohm, Paul A. "Chaucer's Audience(s): Fictional, Implied, Actual." 18 (1983): 137-45.
The pilgrims in the Canterbury Tales show us part of Chaucer's conception of his audience. Given evidence from his works, critics can establish an implied audience having a common body of knowledge. Chaucer's audience was able to recognize biblical allusions, for example. In light of the patronage system under which Chaucer wrote, scholars must admit the existence of an authorial intent to write for a specific audience, although most works were read by people outside of the intended group or person. Present knowledge of Chaucer's audience derives from the clues previously mentioned, but much remains to be examined.
Taavitsainen, Irma. "Narrative Patterns of Affect in Four Genres of the Canterbury Tales." 30 (1995): 191-210.
The number of exclamations and interjections varies from text to text, from genre to genre. Such verbal elements serve, however, to indicate how much emotion is invested in the text. The Canterbury Tales is a mix of genres, engaging the audience in a number of different ways. Interjections can be transferred from one genre to another while still containing some of their previous connotations. Examination of each of the Canterbury Tales reveals that interjections can also be used to create irony and narrative suspense.
Winstead, Karen A. "John Capgrave and the Chaucer Tradition." 30 (1996): 389-400.
Although Capgrave never directly refers to Chaucer, analysis of Capgrave's Life of St. Katherine of Alexandria indicates that he had some familiarity with Troilus and Criseyde and the Canterbury Tales. Capgrave's portrait of Katherine approaches the same question of the place of women in society which Chaucer examines in Troilus and Criseyde. Though Katherine is a saint and Criseyde is not, Katherine shares a number of qualities with Criseyde, including a reading mentality. Capgrave also follows in Chaucer's footsteps where he apologizes for the places where his work lacks something, when he claims to be a translator instead of a creative writer, and when he assures his reader that his account of Katherine's life is accurate. Capgrave discusses several issues that were not considered appropriate to discuss with the laity, but by creating an extremely intrusive narrator he avoids any authorial responsibility and censure. Though the ending of the Life of St. Katherine is complex, like the ending of Troilus and Criseyde, Capgrave reminds readers of authorial troubles, not of the transition from earthly to spiritual existence. Capgrave also expresses concern with how later readers will perceive what he writes.
Winstead, Karen A. "The Beryn-Writer as a Reader of Chaucer." 22 (1988): 225-33.
The Tale of Beryn attempts to continue the Canterbury Tales. The writer is able to imitate Chaucer's humor, style, irony, and narrative techniques, though he has a different idea of the function of the frame. The writer treats readers similarly to Chaucer, creating anticipations of a romance and a heroic past, but then taking apart those expectations. The Tale of Beryn is connected to the prologue and framing device in the same way that the Chaucer's tales are connected to the General Prologue and to one another, and both works require similar activities on the part of the audience. Examination of the Tale of Beryn suggests that fifteenth-century writers appreciated these aspects of Chaucer's artistry.