The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Burlin, Robert B. "Middle English Romance: The Structure of Genre." 30 (1995): 1-14.
Middle English romances did not exist solely for entertainment. Included with the delightful elements of the romance were social, spiritual, and class concerns. The paradigmatic axis of the romance is the chivalric and courtly codes, apparent in works like Havelok the Dane, the Alliterative Morte Arthure, Marie de France's Lanval, and Malory's Morte d'Arthur. Chaucer also makes use of this code in the Knight's Tale and in Troilus and Criseyde. On the syntagmatic axis are the quest and the test. The Knight's Tale, Malory's Morte, and Sir Orpheo use the chivalric and courtly codes together to create narrative tension. In Sir Orpheo, Troilus and Criseyde, and the Roman de la Rose, however, any attempt to put the narrative on the syntagmatic axis fails because such tales only work in the context of idleness. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight shows a different interpenetration of the two axes in that Gawain is both a courtly lover and a questing knight, but he can handle only one code at a time.
Halverson, John. "Havelok the Dane and Society." 6 (1971): 142-51.
The language of the English version of Havelok the Dane reveals that it is more bourgeois than the French lay which seems to have been written for the upper class. Comparing the two clarifies the distinction between middle and upper classes. The French version seems more bound to literary tradition than the English tale. In addition, social consensus is drawn from the military level of society in the French lay while the English poem draws from all levels of society and maintains a more bourgeois tone. The English poem also expresses a more positive attitude toward the middle class than the French lay. When Havelok fights for his throne, the English version of the story has him using a peasant's club while the French give him a more prestigious battle ax. Finally, the English poem seems to express a kind of Robin-Hood fantasy of the lower middle class.
Hench, Atcheson L. "'Game' in Havelok 966." 7 (1973): 297-98.
"Game" can mean wooded or brushy land as the word is used in the sixteenth century. Using this meaning clarifies line 966 and restores the original meaning.