The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Aers, David. "The Parliament of Fowls: Authority, the Knower and the Known." 16 (1981): 1-17.
Chaucer's poetic construction forces his readers to overlook problems inherent in the idea of "commune profyt." By choosing explicitly pagan material in considering questions posed by Augustine in the De civitate dei, Chaucer undermines the pagan text. By noticing the juxtaposition of the two texts, readers recognize the "human mediations involved in all human knowledge" (9). The conflict between the lower classes of birds and the eagles in the Parliament of Fowls indicates a social conflict. Ultimately, Chaucer subverts all dogmas and all attempts to replace personal knowing with authoritative interpretation.
Allen, Peter L. "Reading Chaucer's Good Women." 21 (1987): 419-34.
The women Chaucer portrays in the Legend of Good Women are both writers and readers. In the Prologue, however, Chaucer asserts that, where possible, experience is a better authority than books. The prologue to the Legend of Good Women also raises questions regarding Chaucer's earlier works. Because the legends force readers to dispute their judgment and their ability to read perceptively, the legends highlight the reading process. Chaucer undermines the authority forcing him to write the legends especially in his use of abbreviatio and occupatio (occultatio) and in the alteration of his sources to make difficult women into tractable ones. By compelling the reader to challenge the narrator and the authorities, Chaucer pushes readers to become confident in their own judgment.
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.
Daileader, Celia R. "The Thopas-Melibee Sequence and the Defeat of Antifeminism." 29 (1994): 26-39.
The Wife of Bath problematizes the abuse of women, both physically and verbally, in her rebellion and misconstruction of authority. Chaucer responds to the Wife in the Tale of Melibee, reasserting his authority through Prudence. The rapes at the beginning of the Wife of Bath's Tale and the Tale of Melibee parallel each other in several significant ways. These violations also raise the question of how women may speak about the violation of texts and their bodies. In the Tale of Melibee, Prudence must convince Melibee to listen to her, and she does so by direct quotation from a number of texts. The Wife asserts herself by misquoting a few texts. In Prudence Chaucer responds to the Wife of Bath's feminist rhetoric which misconstrues authoritative texts by systematically addressing and dismantling those authorities.
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.
Justman, Stewart. "Medieval Monism and Abuse of Authority in Chaucer." 11 (1976): 95-111.
Different Chaucerian characters use the same authorities for opposing ends, suggesting that for Chaucer, authority may be illogical and subject to dispute. The inconsistencies in authorities like Jerome allow writers to cite any authority for any reason. Finally, Paul, Jerome, and Boethius demonstrate that human experience cannot be reduced to one single rule.
Miller, Robert P. "The Miller's Tale as Complaint." 5 (1970): 147-60.
The Miller uses his tale to examine the three estates of his society and the estate of women from an anti-authoritarian viewpoint which demonstrates Chaucer's animosity towards his own authorities. The Miller finds the manners of the gentry distasteful, as he demonstrates by telling a bawdy tale which contains deliberate reflections of the Knight's Tale. By putting Absolon in a position to be farted upon, the Miller makes fun of the courtly love tradition. In Nicholas, the Miller holds the clergy up for scorn: Nicholas is incapable of handling "Goddes pryvetee" for anything but his own advantage. The Miller, however, avoids mocking his own estate; instead, he sets up John as a personal failure. Lastly, Alisoun lowers herself to the Miller's expectations and demonstrates his view of the estate of women.
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.
Sklute, Larry M. "The Inconclusive Form of the Parliament of Fowls." 16 (1981): 119-28.
Though well-organized, the Parliament of Fowls leaves readers with a sense of inconclusiveness. Chaucer creates the readers' sense of confusion by giving us a bewildered narrator who uses a broad definition of love but seeks an extremely specific solution. The other elements in the poem, such as, the non-choice of the formel eagle at the end of the parliament, work together to make the reader recognize that a lack of finality supports the poem. In contrasting the two dreams, Chaucer does more than subvert authority: he suggests that reality is pluralistic and supports his assertion with inconclusion.
Spearman, Alan. "'How he Symplicius Gallus . . .': Alison of Bath's Name-Calling, or 'The Taming of the Shrewed.'" 29 (1994): 149-62.
In the Wife of Bath's Prologue, the Wife manipulates proper names, particularly Sulpicius Gallus, in order to establish her position of authority over antagonistic men like Jankyn, and to establish "a subtle resonance between the Prologue and another apposite fragment of the Tales" (149). The corruption of Gallus's name from Sulpicius to Symplicius is most likely unconscious, but it connects the name to the concept of simplicity or ignorance. This play on Sulpicius's name allows the Wife to control him in a unique way and to mock him at the same time. Implicit in her move is the undercutting of Jankyn's male authorities who do not permit her to speak.