The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Benson, C. David. "'O nyce world': What Chaucer Really Found in Guido Delle Colonne's History of Troy." 13 (1979): 308-15.
Chaucer borrows the narrative stance for Troilus and Criseyde from Guido's Historia destructionis Troiae. Following Guido, Chaucer makes the narrator a cynical historian.
Brown, Carole Keopke. "'It is true art to conceal art': The Episodic Structure of Chaucer's Franklin's Tale." 27 (1992): 162-85.
The Franklin's Tale is a series of episodes carefully connected so as to be a seamless whole. Chaucer arranges the narrative in a repeating series of three, but each episode alters the material of the previous one so that no one is like any other. The structure contributes to the meaning of the tale in that the "trouthes" and the complaints decline, but the compassion shown to the victim increases.
Brown, Emerson, Jr. "Chaucer, the Merchant, and Their Tale: Getting Beyond Old Controversies: Part I." 13 (1978): 141-56.
The Merchant's Tale is misogynistic at heart, and the Merchant cannot be separated from it. The bondage imagery, the narrative voice, and the personal affront suggested by Damyan's description connect the prologue and the tale. The Merchant's Tale cannot be reduced to a happy or sarcastic fabliau because the Merchant's voice is too complex.
Campbell, Jennifer. "Figuring Criseyde's 'Entente': Authority, Narrative, and Chaucer's Use of History." 27 (1993): 342-58.
Book IV of Troilus and Criseyde changes the audience's perception of Criseyde by introducing history into the narrative. Though the narrator does his best to present Criseyde's point of view, he occasionally reminds his audience that their knowledge of her is not complete. Any attempt to complete this portrait risks intruding on the tension between identification with and separation from a character, and thus, the authority of the narrator is closely connected to his presentation of Criseyde. The narrator often interrupts his narrative and includes disclaimers in an attempt to control his discourse. Book IV breaks into the narrative by forcing the audience to recognize the dangers an enigmatic woman poses to her historical framework. The destiny of Criseyde and Troilus's relationship is determined by history in part because Criseyde mistakenly believes that she can act to alter what will happen. Finally, readers realize that the only way for the narrator to control the narrative is to sever the relationship between a woman and language.
Dean, James. "Artistic Conclusiveness in Chaucer's Parliament of Fowls." 21 (1986): 16-25.
The uncertainty that frustrates Chaucer scholars in the Parliament of Fowls is a deliberate attempt to show that art has the capacity "to force a conclusion where there can be no true closure" (16). The narrator's confusion and wavering, the pun on "parlement," the incongruity of human-like birds, and the structure of the poem itself create the sense of inconclusion. The roundel at the end does not necessarily follow the "conclusion" of the parliament. The lyric does, however, demonstrate certainty in both content and form, and it evokes a sense of harmony. The dreamer's awakening, however, undercuts the sense of conclusion that the roundel provided and hints that such questions might not be resolved.
Finlayson, John. "The Roman de la Rose and Chaucer's Narrators." 24 (1990): 187-210.
Comparing Chaucer's dream vision narrators to the narrator in the Roman de la Rose illuminates the functions of Chaucer's narrators. In the Roman de la Rose the narrator has a number of different stances highlighting a variety of personality traits. Guillaume de Lorris's narrator psychologically coresponds to the author. In the Book of the Duchess, however, the narrator is not established with a particular autobiographical connection to the author. The places in which the narrator becomes autobiographical are merely narrative devices because texts like the Book of the Duchess and the Parliament of Fowls do not present a "consistent, 'comic persona'" (200). The narrator in House of Fame is not consistently the same, but he is constantly in attendance as the unifying device for the poem. In the Book of the Duchess and the Parliament of Fowls the narrator is not often present, nor is he consistent, and his statements show greater neutrality than previous scholars have thought.
Frakes, Jerold C. "'Ther nis namoore to seye': Closure in the Knight's Tale." 22 (1987): 1-7.
The events which end the story in the Knight's Tale are subject to Fortune, as are all the events in the tale. Thus, the tale is merely stopped at the end of one of Fortune's cycles, not fully closed.
Holley, Linda Tarte. "Medieval Optics and the Framed Narrative in Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde." 21 (1986): 26-44.
Especially in framed narratives, Chaucer used structures based on medieval theories of seeing found in Robert Grosseteste, Albertus Magnus, Roger Bacon, and John Pecham. Framing devices derive from the medieval dramatic tradition which often used the church arch as a frame for dramatic action. This physical frame evolved into the use of Christian history as an invisible frame. Painters working from newly rediscovered knowledge about optics were able to create three-dimensional paintings and used framing devices. Critics then encouraged the reading of paintings, a belief that carried over into manuscript production. Troilus and Criseyde is constructed in four different frames, 1) characters who through a frame, 2) the dream-vision frame, the poem, 3) the physical, verbal, historical, and philosophical frames within the poem, and 4) a metaphorical frame. In the Nun's Priest's Tale, Chaucer parodically reverses the frame of Troilus and Criseyde.
Luxon, Thomas H. "'Sentence' and 'Solaas': Proverbs and Consolation in the Knight's Tale." 22 (1987): 94-111.
In the Knight's Tale "sentence" and "solaas" frequently oppose each other. At the end of the tale Theseus propounds the belief that Fortune controls life, but the tale contains many seemingly irrational events. By forcusing on pain, Chaucer disrupts his audience's sense of an ordered world. Occasionally the narrator asks readers to share pain, but sometimes, the speaker seems to attempt to separate readers from the pain. Distancing techniques include clinical, descriptive language, occupatio, proverbs, and conventional wisdom. Finally, the Knight shows that "sentence" follows a struggle for "solaas."
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.
Specht, Henrik. "'Ethopoeia' or Impersonation: A Neglected Species of Medieval Characterization." 21 (1986): 1-15.
By understanding ethopoeia or adlocutio, scholars gain greater comprehension of character portrayal in medieval literature. Generally, ethopoeia suspends the narrative in order that protagonists might reveal their thoughts in a formal style. Classical rhetoricians, such as Horace in his Ars poetica and Hermogenes in his Progymnasmata, taught that decorum must be observed when inserting such a moment into the text. Twelfth- and thirteenth-century rhetoricians taught that this device could be used both for giving personality to a character and for personifying inanimate objects. Chaucer borrows from this tradition in the Legend of Good Women when presenting Medea and Dido. He employs this device to a greater extent in Troilus and Criseyde when Criseyde leaves Troilus for Diomede.
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.
Weisberg, David. "Telling Stories about Constance: Framing and Narrative Strategy in the Canterbury Tales." 27 (1992): 45-64.
For years, critics have unquestioningly accepted the Canterbury Tales as a group of framed narratives. In order to study any one of the tales itself, readers must determine what is outside the tale and must be excluded, and what is inside the tale and may be included. Such a distinction is not easily made, however, since the frame constantly determines readings of the tales without readers' recognition of its influence. The Man of Law's Tale, for example, creates the voice of its teller. The tale itself functions as a frame for a variety of narratives that define Custance and determine what happens to her. The false tales told about her by those like Donegild appear false because readers perceive them against a background of the "true" story. In both the frame of the General Prologue and the frame of the Man of Law's Tale, narrative acts are also narrative events. Though the frames are not exactly the same, the tales within them function the same way by delaying the progress of the frame narrative. Certainly the frame of the Canterbury Tales must be more closely examined.
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.
Yearwood, Stephenie. "The Rhetoric of Narrative Rendering in Chaucer's Troilus." 12 (1977): 27-37.
In Troilus and Criseyde Chaucer uses several narrative techniques which cause his readers to adopt particular value systems. Chaucer alters the frame in order to control the audience's response to the narrative. Chaucer also splits the narrator's positioning, so at one time the narrator reports events and at others, the readers are unaware of the narrator at all. The split of narrative positioning adds a number of different complexities to the plot. This type of examination also reveals that Chaucer does prepare readers for the epilogue which should not surprise readers with its value system.