The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
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.
Blamires, A. "A Chaucer Manifesto." 24 (1989): 29-44.
The Prologue to the Legend of Good Women is a "poetic manifesto" (29). The poet struggles with Cupid's tyranny that has denied him the experience of love and forced him to rely on book knowledge. In the beginning the speaker focuses on book learning and devalues experience, a point of view closely associated with his religious sensibilities. Later however, the poet shifts his attention from books to daisies, thus directly contradicting his earlier stance. Because readers do not realize that the daisy represents Alceste, they laugh at the narrator's worship of the daisy and perceive heretical overtones in that activity. Thus in this instance, Chaucer proclaims himself a poet of texts, not of sight or experience.
Christianson, Paul. "Chaucer's Literacy." 11 (1976): 112-27.
As a reader himself, Chaucer requires that his readers notice the effort involved in reading and writing. References to reading in Chaucer's works demonstrate Chaucer's belief that words conceal in order to reveal. The use of occupatio reminds readers of the time they must expend in order to read or to write. Chaucer does, however, show a skeptical attitude towards the idea that language must not replicate the world, but tell the truth about it. For him, experience is not an appropriate test for language. Ultimately, Chaucer forces his reader to see the problem of thinking and knowing.
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.
Phillips, Helen. "Literary Allusion in Chaucer's Ballade, 'Hyd, Absalon, thy gilte tresses clere.'" 30 (1995): 134-49.
In the prologue to the Legend of Good Women Chaucer borrows from Thomas Paien's ballad "Ne quier veoir la biauté d'Absalon" and Froissart's "Ne quier veoir Medee ne Jason." Like these writers, Chaucer also inserts a catalogue of classical and biblical women, each associated with different virtues. To create this list Chaucer steals from a number of different writers, including Ovid, Guido delle Colonne, Machaut, Froissart, the twelfth-century Piramus et Thisbé, Dante, and Vincent de Beauvais. Such examination tells scholars much about Chaucer's reading habits and the care with which he designed the opening ballade.