The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Ambrisco, Alan S., and Paul Strohm. "Succession and Sovereignty in Lydgate's Prologue to The Troy Book." 30 (1995): 40-57.
In the prologue to the Troy Book Lydgate presents the problems of literary succession. Much like political successions, literary succession is continually interrupted and resumed. First Lydgate admits his debt to preceding authors, attempting to fill in the fissure between his present and the literary past by referring to the Troy Book. Because it is merely imaginary, the text does not have a temporal element, thus escaping the problems of historicity plaguing Guido delle Colone's Historia destructionis Troiae and Lydgate's reworking of it. The Troy Book thus reappears through various lacunae in the text in interrupted lines of succession. Lydgate contrasts this text to more historical texts such as De excidio Troiae historia and Ephemeris belli Troiani. A conflict erupts in Lydgate's work between historical, linear authority and self-asserted authority in Guido's text which rests on the subjugation of Benoît's Roman de Troie. But Lydgate makes merit the most important qualification for legitimacy. In his prologue, Lydgate attempts to create a gap in the succession of literary authorities which he and Guido can fill. Politically Henry IV follows much the same process, affirming himself as king in the line of succession. In both cases, memory reworks both political and social history, providing links for succession where before none existed.