The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Andreas, James. "'Newe science' from 'Olde bokes': A Bakhtinian Approach to the Summoner's Tale." 25 (1990): 138-51.
In the Summoner's Tale Chaucer festively inverts tradition so as not to present a perversion of Christianity. Authorities in the Middle Ages approved the romance form for tales, and the fabliau was a comic, carnivalesque inversion of the romance. In Chaucer's use of these forms, laughter is produced by placing the past in the present. The Summoner develops a conflict between a friar and a layman. The Summoner fits the profile of a carnival tale-teller as a parody of his profession who is damned according to tradition. Numerous other associations and details connect the Summoner with carnival tradition. Throughout the Summoner's Tale and the following tales, the attitude of carnival allows the Summoner and other pilgrims such as the Squire to parody Christian traditions.
Baird, Joseph L., and Lorrayne Y. Baird. "Fabliau Form and the Hegge Joseph's Return." 8 (1973): 159-69.
Most of the Joseph plays show Joseph as an impotent old man with a young wife, but only the Hegge dramatist draws direct attention to the fabliau-love-triangle possibilities of this view. Examination of the Hegge Joseph's Return shows that it followed the lover's triangle pattern, borrowing the unexpected entrance of the husband, his loss of sight, discovery of the wife, her strategic escape from a difficult situation, and the husband's repentance and acceptance of the situation with joy.
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.
Correale, Robert M. "Chaucer's Parody of Compline in the Reeve's Tale." 1 (1967): 161-66.
The clerks distort the prayers of the Compline service in their curse of the miller and his family, and also in their "swyving" of the miller's wife and daughter. Chaucer then parodies the secular aube (morning song). The action of the tale parodies one of the most solemn Compline prayers.
Eberle, Patricia J. "Commercial Language and the Commercial Outlook in the General Prologue." 18 (1983): 161-74.
The references to money in the Canterbury Tales show Chaucer's assumptions of a financially sophisticated audience aware of venal satire. In the courtly love tradition, money was spoken of only as a reward or gift, and commercial activities were ignored. The fabliau maintains this distinction, since characters focus on spending and earning. The General Prologue, however, assumes characteristics of both romance and fabliau, thus implying that Chaucer wrote for an audience that would appreciate both traditions. The Host points out that time is money and that poetry is idleness. The pilgrims treat each other in such a way as to suggest that professions, and therefore money, are closely linked to who people are.
Friedman, John Block. "A Reading of Chaucer's Reeve's Tale." 2 (1967): 8-19.
The Reeve's use of animal imagery in his tale far exceeds the number of animals usually found in fabliaux. Some of the animals Chaucer added are associated with various sins, thus suggesting a moral reading in addition to the humorous one.
Green, Richard Firth. "Women in Chaucer's Audience." 18 (1983): 146-54.
Historical records indicate that at court, men and women did not spend much time together. Most likely, the audience that heard Chaucer read his poetry aloud was entirely male, in part because the population of women at court was quite small. The increasing presence of women at court towards the end of the fourteenth century may account for the decline of the fabliau.
Jensen, Emily. "Male Competition as a Unifying Motif in Fragment A of the Canterbury Tales." 24 (1990): 320-28.
The tales in Group I descend in genre and character from courtly romance to fabliau, from knights to peasants. In Group I, this descent occurs in terms of male competion, both in the tales and between the pilgrims. The competition centers on a woman who becomes increasingly more active and more objectified as the tales progress. Examination of the Knight's, Miller's, Reeve's, and Cook's Tales clearly demonstrates this downward movement. The links between these tales are focused on "quiting," also a form of competition. The pun on "queynte" and the rhymes formed with "wyf" as the tales continue emphasize the progressive objectification of women.
Joseph, Gerhard. "Chaucer's Coinage: Foreign Exchange and the Puns of the Shipman's Tale." 17 (1983): 341-57.
The image of a sea voyage makes the Shipman the right teller for his tale because he must navigate a foreign form (fabliau) and language into English. In the Shipman's Tale, money and language create wealth. The pun on "taille" (1606) perfectly expresses the monetary and linguistic movements within the tale.
Joseph, Gerhard. "Chaucerian 'Game'-'Earnest' and the 'Argument of herbergage' in the Canterbury Tales." 5 (1970): 83-96.
Chaucer perceives human space in two opposing ways, best seen in the difference between tales of "game" and those of "earnest" of which the tales in Fragment A are a good example. In the Knight's Tale, the amplification of time suggests a movement to order which underlines the suggestion that space can reduce passion. In the Knight's Tale, Chaucer also follows Boethius in suggesting that human space is prison; thus the enclosures become objective-correlatives for the prison of this life. In the fabliaux, however, restricted areas become places of joining between man and woman. Perspective determines how people see human space: from a serious point of view, life is prison; from a light-hearted outlook, life is endless space. The contest between the movement to the shrine (serious) and return to the tavern (light-hearted) suggests that these two views are so closely mixed that to attempt a separation is foolish.
Kohanski, Tamarah. "In Search of Maleyne." 27 (1993): 228-68.
In the Reeve's Tale Maleyne is often considred a non-entity, and most critics read her as a fabliau female, a willing participant in the sexual games the clerks play. In fact, Chaucer presents her as a mix of high- and low-born characteristics, and leaves her level of sexual activity open to question. She does not have time to cry out against Alan when he comes to her bed, and Chaucer presents no evidence that she is complicit in such activity.
McClintock, Michael W. "Games and the Players of Games: Old French Fabliaux and the Shipman's Tale." 5 (1970): 112-36.
Fabliaux focus primarily on laughter and are filled with stock characters. Humor is always directed at one of the characters. The element shared among most fabliaux is that of game-playing. Readers can see the Shipman's Tale as the story of a game. Since the relationships between the characters are characterized by more than gaming, however, the Shipman's Tale cannot be considered a fabliau. The tale is about two relationships: the monk's relationship to the merchant, and the wife's relationship to her husband, the merchant. The adultery which occurs between the monk and the wife connects the two relationships by betraying both the friendship and the marriage. At the beginning of tale, the relationship between the merchant and his wife is not overtly sexual. Detailed examination of the merchant and his attitude toward money clarifies the wife's incentive for adultery. She does not play the same money games as her husband. His concern with money makes him unconcerned about sex, while the wife connects money and sex. When the wife suggests to her husband that she will pay her monetary debt to him in bed, she makes adultery-prostitution the model for her marriage. Friendship between the merchant and the monk becomes the standard against which to measure the marital relationship, thus making friendship most important to the tale.
Passon, Richard H. "'Entente' in Chaucer's Friar's Tale." 2 (1968): 166-71.
Chaucer uses "entente" to suggest a moral dimension beneath the fabliau elements of the Friar's Tale. In telling his tale, the Friar steps into the role of preacher, suggesting that evil may appear good, but that evil can always be discerned by examining "entente." Examining "entente" adds to the irony of the story, since the Friar's malicious intent becomes clear at the end of his tale.
Pearcy, Roy J. "Chaucer's Franklin and the Literary Vavasour." 8 (1973): 33-59.
In medieval society, vavasours as a class exist between the aristocracy and the serfs. From this position, a vavasour can offer advice to the more ambitious and hospitality to knights, particularly since the vavasour, as a landholder, is stationary as compared to knights who travel a great deal. The Franklin has many of the stock qualities of the vavasour. Romances typically draw knights and vavasours into conflict in order to explore their different lifestyles and devotion to different ideals through "debate." As the feudal system declined, however, disorder occurred in class relationships. As Gautier le Leu's Le Sot Chevalier shows, however, the relationship between knight and vavasour can collapse. The lay and fabliau may use the meeting between knight and vavasour as the context for the whole work as in Le Vair Palefroi and Le Chevalier a la Robe Vermeille. The fabliau vavasour is stubbornly practical, and thus becomes the object of satire as part of an attempt to restore social order. The Squire and the Franklin seem to show the separation between knight and vavasour. The Franklin chooses to tell a lay in order to confirm his position as part of the Squire's class, but the Franklin is unable to escape his practical, rational approach to life. The final result is that the Franklin seems to look nostalgically at the passing chivalric world.
Scattergood, V. J. "Perkyn Revelour and the Cook's Tale." 19 (1984): 14-23.
Although the Cook's Tale is unfinished, critics can determine Perkyn Revelour's character and ascertain that Chaucer probably intended the Cook's Tale to be a fabliau based on Perkyn's portrait. Perkyn is, like other mischievous apprentices and vice figures, associated with gambling and prostitution. Chaucer's treatment of these customs gives his account of Perkyn a naturalistic feel.
Shedd, Gordon M. "Flamenca: A Medieval Satire on Courtly Love." 2 (1967): 43-65.
Contrary to current critical opinion, the Roman de Flamenca, a Provençal romance, pokes fun at the courtly love tradition. Its plot bears close resemblance to the fabliau, which suggests a less than serious intent. When Guillems sets off to win Flamenca sight unseen, he is not merely in love with love; instead, he has every intention of filling an acceptable social role. Guillems has many talents, but when he dedicates them to the god of Love, nothing prevents him from becoming a fool. The poet also mocks a number of traditionally highly romantic moments, finally demonstrating that courtly love is no more than an elaborate self-centered game which requires replacing the love of God with love of (lust for) the lady.
Stevens, Martin. "'And Venus laugheth': An Interpretation of the Merchant's Tale." 7 (1972): 117-31.
Chaucer characterizes the Merchant through his tale as a capable businessman with a shrewish wife. May is not, however, a portrait of the Merchant's wife. In order fully to appreciate the tale, readers must eliminate consideration of the narrator. The Merchant's Tale then appears as a fabliau mocking the senex amans.
Stroud, T. A. "The Palinode, the Narrator, and Pandarus's Alleged Incest." 27 (1992): 16-30.
The Palinode at the end of Troilus and Criseyde has always puzzled critics. The narrator's depiction of Troilus's end draws attention to two possible ways of interpreting the plot, either as "pathetic romance" or as an allegorical "Boethian quest" (18). Identification of the repudiation of earthly love as a palinode allows critics to examine the charge that Pandarus committed incest. Though medieval writers treated unwedded sex as sin, Gower treats incest as a sin in Confessio amantis, neither Boccaccio, Dante, Ovid, nor any of the French fabliau treat incest. Though Pandarus does act as a go-between, he merely asks Criseyde to forgive him the next morning.
West, Michael D. "Dramatic Time, Setting, and Motivation in Chaucer." 2 (1968): 147-87.
Because Chaucer chooses to focus on other elements of his stories, the analogues to his tales often surpass his in realistic elements. In the Merchant's Tale, the garden setting causes the tale to function in both the worlds of allegory and fabliau, giving the reader a sense of unreality while at the same time leaving the reader with the idea that marriage is "sheer hell" (176). The same elements operate in the Prioress's Tale. Chaucer significantly changes the timing of events from that in his source in order to satisfy the demands of the story. These changes, however, do not coincide with what the reader recognizes as reality. The Pardoner's Tale also demonstrates Chaucer's lack of concern for realistic action in his story. Chaucer's thieves do a number of strange things which thieves do not usually do, like getting three bottles of wine, but forgetting the bread. Unrealities also occur in Troilus and Criseyde. These actions demonstrate the overwhelming greed of his characters. The mutilation of realistic detail draws his audience into his stories, thus making the tales every bit as effective as the sources, but on their own terms.