The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Andreas, James R. "'Wordes betwene': The Rhetoric of the Canterbury Links." 29 (1994): 45-64.
Bakhtin's theories of discourse are presaged in the works of Geoffrey of Vinsauf from which Chaucer borrows in the Canterbury Tales. This foreshadowing is most clear in Chaucer's views of language in which the word becomes a magical illusion allowing "the living and the dead [to] speak to one another through the magical medium of the utterance" (45). Such conversation is most apparent in the links between the Canterbury Tales. The feast metaphor accurately describes the amplificatio present throughout the tales. Chaucer also seems to use Vinsauf's trope of expolitio, in that Chaucer implies something is more important that what he says. Both Vinsauf and Bakhtin posit that the "most crucial aspect of languge . . . is the fact that it can . . . replicate itself with ever finer gradations of meaning and expression" (50). For Chaucer the activity of translation provides an opportunity for renewal which creates delight. The links between the tales not only provide the opportunity for dialogue, but they also characterize and aculturate each speaker. The nature of speech as dialogue is most apparent in the Man of Law's Prologue. The links also provide a space in the narrative for laughter to occur.
Jordan, Robert M. "The Compositional Structure of the Book of the Duchess." 9 (1974): 99-117.
Geoffrey of Vinsauf's principles of "macro-rhetoric" shape the narrative structure of the Book of the Duchess (101). Examination of the structure of the Book of the Duchess indicates division into eulogy and consolation. Within this larger structure, smaller clear sections follow Vinsauf's "poetic-house" structure (103) and display amplificatio. The man in black, a portrait of John of Gaunt, instructs readers and the narrator in courtly virtue. The narrator's response, however, is personal, though in other places the narrator functions as a transitional device. We cannot read the narrator as a unified consciousness because he moves between these two roles. Once the dreamer shows his personal concern, the man in black expands his complaint d'amour. The dreamer's response seems inappropriate because readers share gentility with the man in black which the narrator does not. The irregularities of the text result from the fact that Chaucer did not write the Book of the Duchess organically, and this inorganic approach accommodates Seys and Alcyone's story.
Kiernan, Kevin S. "The Art of the Descending Catalogue, and a Fresh Look at Alisoun." 10 (1975): 1-16.
As demonstrated in the works of Geoffrey of Vinsauf, appropriate description of a beautiful woman began with her head and worked downward to her feet. Writers could achieve different effects by altering the order of the catalogue or by using clothing to draw attention to various body parts. Chaucer's description of Alisoun in the Miller's Tale demonstrates this tradition as do his descriptions of Criseyde, the Wife of Bath, and the Prioress. Though Chaucer's presentation of Emily in the Knight's Tale is not a catalogue, it functions like one in that the reader examines Emily's body. Writers also use catalogues to create humor, particularly by describing someone other than a beloved lady as in Chaucer's description of Sir Thopas. The use of the catalogue to describe ugliness in The Weddynge of Sir Gawen and Dame Ragnell demonstrates the standard of beauty by opposition. When Chaucer uses the catalogue to describe Alisoun, he involves the reader in the Miller's leering.
Manning, Stephen. "Troilus, Book V: Invention and the Poem as Process." 18 (1984): 288-302.
Troilus and Criseyde, particularly Book V, reveals a concern with the mutability of poetry and the Narrator's metamorphosis from narrator to poet. Medieval writers thought of poetry in two ways. Like Geoffrey of Vinsauf, some writers thought that creating poetry was like building a house; other writers believed, like Boethius, that Fortune had a significant part in writing. Chaucer follows the Boethian view in Troilus and Criseyde. Inventio includes mimesis and imagination, and Chaucer's narrator employs both. In the Epilogue, the narrator realizes the theme of his story and so gives himself a unified identity as narrator and poet.