The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Pelen, Marc M. "Machaut's Court of Love Narratives and Chaucer's Book of the Duchess." 11 (1976): 128-55.
Examining poems by Machaut and Froissart may help to illuminate Chaucer's early voice. Most of these poems are dream visions, and they follow a three-part structure in which the dreamer calls up a perfect garden, is met by a guide, and discovers a dispute which will work towards the resolution of his love-trials. Readers can also find this structure in poems like Phyllis and Flora, which is not technically a dream vision. In these French poems, classical references inform the images and the structure, as does a "larger memory of a common marriage theme" (130). Close examination also reveals borrowings from the Roman de la Rose. In the Book of the Duchess, Chaucer includes lines from Jugement dou Roy de Behaingne and Jugement dou Roy de Navarre. The structure of both poems falls into the traditional clerk-chevalier debate. Remede de Fortune integrates Boethian philosophy as a response to Ovidian infatuations. The lover's complaints against Fortune appear in the Book of the Duchess as the complaints of the man in black. Dit de la Fonteinne Amoureuse employs the traditions of complaint and consolation, and Chaucer borrows elements of this poem in the Book of the Duchess. In light of the borrowings from Machaut, readers must hear the Book of the Duchess as a French "love-debate at a Court of Love without a specific plea, contest, or decision" (147).
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.
Robbins, Rossell Hope. "Geoffroi Chaucer, Poète Français, Father of English Poetry." 13 (1978): 93-115.
Chaucer's early work is lost, though scholars conjecture that because the courts of Chaucer's early life were French-speaking, his early poetry was French. French continued to be used as a court language until approximately 1417, though it continued to be the professed language of noble families for some time thereafter. Chaucer's wife also spoke French and probably Flemish. The Book of the Duchess was not written in French because a small audience for English poetry was growing at the aristocratic level. Also, Chaucer probably wrote the Book of the Duchess to read before the personal staff of the Duke of Lancaster, most of whom spoke English. Certainly, Chaucer's early works followed the French tradition in a manner similar to that of Michael de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk. Anonymous French poems, while not attributable to Chaucer, may be considered similar to courtly love lyrics Chaucer may have composed. Chaucer borrowed heavily from French works by Machaut and Froissart as well as the anonymous Songe Vert. Froissart and Machaut, not earlier French romances, were his models for the Book of the Duchess.