The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
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.
McGregor, James H. "The Iconography of Chaucer in Hoccleve's De Regimine Principum and in the Troilus Frontispiece." 11 (1977): 338-50.
The picture of Chaucer in Hoccleve was created after his death and displays specific ideas of Chaucer's purpose for writing. The frontispiece for Troilus and Criseyde may have been painted during Chaucer's life, but there is no way to decide conclusively. Hoccleve presents Chaucer as a poet who has arrived at the end of poetry: he is also a philosopher. Chaucer is also a good counselor, so Hoccleve presents an abridged Melibee, but he distorts the sense so that Chaucer becomes a counselor to princes. The portrait of Chaucer Hoccleve presents, then, is designed to inspire the prince. Chaucer is also presented as the instructor to the prince in the frontispiece to Troilus and Criseyde. Both portraits present Chaucer in a nationalistic sense, suggesting that his most important role is that of presenting philosophy to the ruler, thereby encouraging peace.
Middleton, Anne. "The Modern Art of Fortifying: Palamon and Arcite as Epicurean Epic." 3 (1968): 124-43.
Dryden's attempt to change the Knight's Tale into an epic is unsuccessful. He removes the very things, particularly the narrator's occasional lapses of tone, which Chaucer included to prevent the reader from seeing this tale as an epic. Dryden emphasizes love and arms and focuses on the visual arts, attempting to present a "speaking picture" (126). Instead of leaving the changes Chaucer made to his sources by making Palamon and Arcite similar, Dryden recasts them to make Arcite the warrior and Palamon the lover so that he could have a conflict between love and war. Also, Dryden alters the characterization of the gods so that they become human, no longer detached powers. The changes Dryden makes to Chaucer's tale hide its heroic theme. In addition, the alterations in the deathbed scene modify the tale to such an extent that the reader cannot see the events from a "Chaucerian distance" (140). In the end, he sacrifices "heroic trappings to the truth of the story" (143).
Olson, Glending. "Chaucer's Monk: The Rochester Connection." 21 (1986): 246-56.
The Host chooses the Monk to speak when the pilgrimage reaches Rochester because the Rochester cathedral housed a monastic order, and Thomas Brinton, the bishop of Rochester, inveighed against monastic corruption. During Chaucer's time, one wall of the cathedral was painted with a picture of Fortune and her wheel, a picture that connects the Monk more closely with Rochester. The association of the Monk with the Rochester cathedral demonstrates a greater connection between geography and the pilgrimage than previous criticism has suggested, and it also indicates that Chaucer carefully incorporates historical details.
Ridley, Florence H. "The Treatment of Animals in the Poetry of Henryson and Dunbar." 24 (1990): 356-66.
"The Thrissill and the Rois," like many of Dunbar's other poems, uses animal imagery. In "On the Resurrection of Christ" the animals represent the various figures in the resurrection story. Dunbar's animal images are similar to those used in painting. In "Ane Ballat of the Fen3eit Freir of Tungland" Dunbar's habit of making humans into animals and using animal images drawn from art is clearly visible. In "Tua Mariit Wemen and the Wedo" readers see Dunbar's frequent use of horses as images for people. He also uses such images in "The Petition of the Gray Horse, Auld Dunbar." Dunbar also wrote beast fables such as "The Wowing of the King quhen he wes in Dunfermeling," though Dunbar does not seem especially concerned to present a moral. Henryson's work is more concerned with teaching, thus more concerned with offering a moral for his stories as in moral fables. Henryson also uses animal imagery but draws more from bestiaries and heraldry than from art. Dunbar satirizes particular people in poems like "Of James Dog," "Ane Blak Moir," "The Turnament," and "Epetaphe for Donald Oure." Henryson reverses the pattern of picturing people as animals by depicting animals as humans in protest against oppression and to show compassion as in "The Sheep and the Dog," "The Wolf and the Lamb," and "The Preaching of the Swallow." Though Henryson never explicitly questions Providence, his implicit questioning comes through in his work.
Salda, Michael Norman. "Pages from History: The Medieval Palace of Westminister as a Source for the Dreamer's Chamber in the Book of the Duchess." 27 (1992): 111-25.
The dream chamber in the Book of the Duchess is probably connected to Chaucer's decision to have the dreamer fall asleep while reading, and to have his position be such that when he awakens, he sees a book. Thus his dream chamber is literally the book. Chaucer may also have been referring to the interior of Westminister Abbey or of the chapel of St. Stephen, since both were decorated with scenes depicting stories and accompanied underneath by glosses running the length of the wall.