The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Hart, Thomas Elwood. "Medieval Structuralism: 'Dulcarnoun' and the Five-Book Design of Chaucer's Troilus." 16 (1981): 129-70.
Chaucer carefully laid out the structure of Troilus and Criseyde, and examination of the division of Troilus and Criseyde into five books shows that the divisions themselves add to the work. Readers can assume that Chaucer intended to construct his poem carefully since he borrows from Vinsauf's Poetria nova, which advocates constructing poems architecturally. Chaucer alludes to the highest principle of medieval mathematics when he has Pandarus use "dulcarnoun" (3782), Pythagoras's theorem. The five-book structure may be viewed geometrically as representing two right triangles. The reference to "dulcarnoun" falls in the middle of the shared hypotenuse of the triangles. The number of lines is also proportioned in such a way that they form a regular pentagon. The text may also be examined in terms of "circular proportionality" (145). Chaucer's mention of "nombres proporcionables" in his translation of Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy (III, Met.ix) suggests that he was interested in numerical proportion.
Holley, Linda Tarte. "Medieval Optics and the Framed Narrative in Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde." 21 (1986): 26-44.
Especially in framed narratives, Chaucer used structures based on medieval theories of seeing found in Robert Grosseteste, Albertus Magnus, Roger Bacon, and John Pecham. Framing devices derive from the medieval dramatic tradition which often used the church arch as a frame for dramatic action. This physical frame evolved into the use of Christian history as an invisible frame. Painters working from newly rediscovered knowledge about optics were able to create three-dimensional paintings and used framing devices. Critics then encouraged the reading of paintings, a belief that carried over into manuscript production. Troilus and Criseyde is constructed in four different frames, 1) characters who through a frame, 2) the dream-vision frame, the poem, 3) the physical, verbal, historical, and philosophical frames within the poem, and 4) a metaphorical frame. In the Nun's Priest's Tale, Chaucer parodically reverses the frame of Troilus and Criseyde.
Jordan, Carmel. "Soviet Archeology and the Setting of the Squire's Tale." 22 (1987): 128-40.
Archaelogical research reveals that the city of Sarai, the setting for the Squire's Tale, was a center of international trade. Chaucer could have gained knowledge of Sarai from Genoese merchants who had strong trade ties to Sarai. Records indicate the exotic beauty of the city in art, sculpture, and architecture, and ruins also show that the Khans who lived in Sarai had a great interest in magic. In the Squire's Tale Chaucer skillfully combines setting with details in the tale.
Portnoy, Phyllis. "Beyond the Gothic Cathedral: Post-Modern Reflections on the Canterbury Tales." 28 (1994): 279-92.
If readers add time to the elements of a gothic cathedral, they can easily analyze the fragmented narrative of the Canterbury Tales. The Parson's Prologue resolves the temporal dimension in the tales while pushing it into a timeless one. The pilgrims find themselves on a continuum of spiritual health and spiritual sickness. This continuum suggests a hole in the ideology. That the pilgrimage itself cannot escape the forces of disorder is evident in the progression from the Knight's Tale to the Miller's Tale. The Nun's Priest's Tale also raises the question of justice. The Retraction futher contributes to our sense of disorder because Chaucer uses it to remove the authorial mask.
Tschann, Judith. "The Layout of Sir Thopas in the Ellesmere, Hengwrt, Cambridge Dd.4.24, and Cambridge Gg.4.27 Manuscripts." 20 (1985): 1-13.
The presentation of the Tale of Sir Thopas in the Ellesmere, Hengwrt, and Cambridge manuscripts gives readers different ways of reading it, and suggests the ability of the scribes who presented the poem to read and understand the story they were copying as if it were a piece of architecture.