The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Leicester, H. Marshall, Jr. "The Harmony of Chaucer's Parlement: A Dissonant Voice." 9 (1974): 15-34.
The richness of tradition and the depth of Chaucer's own perceptions prevents the unification of the Parliament of Fowls. Chaucer treats his dream as a series of voices, not of places, and disjoins the voices from each other though they are associated with traditional topoi. The material, however, is too abstract to remain so separated from ordinary experience. Chaucer uses his material to display learning for learning's sake, but this choice separates the erudite material from the more narrative material. The contest between radical ordering and subjective use of traditional material prevents the poem from being unified until the end of Part I. Ultimately, Chaucer cannot separate his material from himself. The final section of the poem is more unified in part because the poet relinquishes his attempt to deal with big questions about love. This progression as well as the action in the last section of the poem itself point to Chaucer's focus on individuals as disruptive forces. Chaucer also examines how types and styles can or cannot communicate; as he represents it, attempting to remain fixed in a type or style will only result in social collapse. Nature seems to be the force channeling individuals into socially accepted behaviors, but there is an underlying suggestion that Nature is chaotic. The final roundel reestablishes natural order and absorbs the individual problems. Finally, the "solution" suggests that society and culture are maintained at the expense of individuals (32).
Payne, Robert O. "Making His Own Myth: The Prologue to Chaucer's Legend of Good Women." 9 (1975): 197-211.
The Prologue to the Legend of Good Women shows a standard Chaucerian narrator, an academic who relates his dream. Like the Book of the Duchess, the Parliament of Fowls, and House of Fame, the Legend of Good Women chronicles the development of a love poet. The narrator becomes progressively more integral to the prologues of these poems, gaining an identity and participating in the activity of the dream garden. In the Legend of Good Women, the narrator becomes a representative of Chaucer; as the narrator, Chaucer refers to his earlier work. Finally, the Prologue to the Legend of Good Women portrays the quest for an ars poetica.
Watts, Ann Chalmers. "Chaucerian Selves--Especially Two Serious Ones." 4 (1970): 229-41.
The separation between Chaucer the author and Chaucer the speaker seems to vary considerably throughout Chaucer's work. The relationship between the author and the speakers is also the relationship between the speakers and the worlds of their settings. The speaker is "normal" while the world is fantasy, and the speaker accepts his illusory world, asking the wrong questions or no questions at all. Thus, the narrator in the Book of the Duchess displays notable obtuseness in his conversation with the man in black, an obtuseness that points to the real world. In the House of Fame, readers experience a similar disjunction between the real world and the fanciful world, and at the end, the narrator denounces the surroundings. As in the House of Fame, the narrator of Troilus and Criseyde presents an interesting problem, particularly at the end of the poem when the distance between the narrator and the author collapses. The joining of author and narrator presents a distinct moral discernable in the serious tone and the absence of qualifing phrases. At the end of the poem, the speaker curses his world, and the author prays for salvation.