The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Ambrisco, Alan S., and Paul Strohm. "Succession and Sovereignty in Lydgate's Prologue to The Troy Book." 30 (1995): 40-57.
In the prologue to the Troy Book Lydgate presents the problems of literary succession. Much like political successions, literary succession is continually interrupted and resumed. First Lydgate admits his debt to preceding authors, attempting to fill in the fissure between his present and the literary past by referring to the Troy Book. Because it is merely imaginary, the text does not have a temporal element, thus escaping the problems of historicity plaguing Guido delle Colone's Historia destructionis Troiae and Lydgate's reworking of it. The Troy Book thus reappears through various lacunae in the text in interrupted lines of succession. Lydgate contrasts this text to more historical texts such as De excidio Troiae historia and Ephemeris belli Troiani. A conflict erupts in Lydgate's work between historical, linear authority and self-asserted authority in Guido's text which rests on the subjugation of Benoît's Roman de Troie. But Lydgate makes merit the most important qualification for legitimacy. In his prologue, Lydgate attempts to create a gap in the succession of literary authorities which he and Guido can fill. Politically Henry IV follows much the same process, affirming himself as king in the line of succession. In both cases, memory reworks both political and social history, providing links for succession where before none existed.
Cooper, Helen. "Chaucer and Joyce." 21 (1986): 142-54.
Chaucer's Canterbury Tales and James Joyce's Ulysses share a focus on naturalism, a recognition on the author's part that language is highly metaphorical, and the use of revered past works. Both works are structured in naturalistic terms and attempt to show the spectrum of their societies. Joyce and Chaucer use a wide variety of styles, demonstrating authorial virtuosity. Each author also includes a section in which he parodies accepted forms. Chaucer does not expect his readers to know his narrative sources, as Joyce expects readers to know Ulysses. Both authors do expect their readers to recognize their allusions.
Crane, Susan. "The Franklin as Dorigen." 24 (1990): 236-52.
The Franklin's insecurity about his rank draws the attention of readers to concerns about class. As a woman, Dorigen holds a marginal position similar to the Franklin's social position. Chaucer thus associates class and gender in order to examine "the ways in which romance imagines the possibilities and the constraints of self-defintion" (237). The Franklin and Dorigen also have similar relationships to clerical writings: both refuse the authority of clerkly writings. Dorigen resists suicide in the same way the Franklin resists romance conventions.
Knapp, Peggy A. "Alisoun of Bathe and the Reappropriation of Tradition." 24 (1989): 45-52.
The Wife of Bath tries to gain control of male-dominated discourse by appropriating the antifeminist tradition and the courtly romance. The Prologue, based on antifeminist tradition, alters the material of Jerome's Epistola adversus Jovinianum, but significantly, this material is represented in the frame of the Canterbury Tales and by a woman. The Wife's Prologue makes the antifeminist texts into a theater in which Alisoun can present her own views. Her tale adds to the tradition of tale-telling, but is still governed by her desires and by the space in which she must exist as a medieval woman. The final kisses in both prologue and tale make the reader feel as though experience and authority have resolved their differences.
Mieszkowski, Gretchen. "Chaucer's Pandarus and Jean Brasdefer's Houdée." 20 (1985): 40-60.
In Pamphile et Galatée, Jean Brasdefer's translation and expansion of Pamphilus, de Amore, the character Houdée fills the role of Pandarus in Troilus and Criseyde. In fact, Houdée uses a speech pattern similar to that of Pandarus, though Pamphile is the earlier work. Both Pandarus and Houdée lecture, over-use proverbs, refer frequently to authorities, make learned jokes, and speak to hear themselves talk, but they both use "vital, direct, earthy, colloquial" speech (49) founded in everyday activities. Houdée is, however, incongruous, so readers perceive her as a joke. Pandarus achieves the status of highly evolved character, in part because the conflicts and contrasts in his character are not so extreme. Scholars cannot positively state that Pamphile et Galatée is Chaucer's source for Pandarus, but the similarities are suggestive.
Olsson, Kurt. "Character and Truth in The Owl and the Nightingale." 11 (1977): 351-68.
By the twelfth century birds represent both the human mind and pride. The poem follows the traditional debate form in which both speakers seek winning, not necessarily truth. Although the owl presents herself as a Christ figure, her words and behavior toward the nightingale undermine this pose. The nightingale pictures herself as the singer of salvific song, but the fact that she refuses to go into the wastelands casts doubt on her saving purpose. Though the debate between the two quickly declines into the sensual, the two birds present language with its abilities to affect people and to create hope or sorrow. The end of the poem ironically overturns the traditional model in which an unresolvable debate is concluded by an appeal to authorities. Because there are no authorities to whom the birds can turn, the debate is settled by a show of force; the small birds join the nightingale. Both birds are, however, guilty of pride in their interpretation of truth.
Overbeck, Pat Trefzger. "Chaucer's Good Woman." 2 (1967): 75-94.
Chaucer treats his sources for the Legend of Good Women in such a way that the women do not consistently acknowledge divine authority, nor do they respond to human authority. Instead, Chaucer's women act impetuously from lust or love. They are, however, capable of bargaining in such a way as to procure both marriage and money. Finally, the women end their own lives. The noble lady, however, eventually becomes Chaucer's Wife of Bath, focused on the pleasures of sex and the financial benefits to be gained in marriage.
Pinti, Daniel J. "Governing the Cook's Tale in Bodley MS 686." 30 (1996): 379-88.
As the fifteenth-century Bodley MS 686 suggests, fifteenth-century scribes and readers did not recognize the inviolability of an author's text. The scribe of the Bodley MS clearly differentiates his voice from that of Chaucer, but develops the fundamental conflict between apprentice and master in the tale and also suggests an end to the story. His changes offer a different view of the themes of the tale and indicate the fifteenth-century conception of Chaucerian authority. The alternating voices throughout the telling of the tale create a story in dialogue and tell readers that they may view the story from different points of view. The scribe also plays on Perkyn's position as an apprentice to create a position for himself as a poet apprenticed to Chaucer. The text of the tale itself also becomes Chaucer's apprentice, but like Perkyn, it is recalcitrant, thus allowing the apprentice poet to demonstrate his poetic ability and to become the poetic master Chaucer. The scribe's participation in the text not only subjects it to necessary governing, but also negotiates the troubled waters of authority in the fifteenth century.
Shaw, Judith Davis. "Lust and Lore in Gower and Chaucer." 19 (1984): 110-22.
Chaucer and Gower treat lore differently. Both believe that lore is the wisdom of the past, but Chaucer doubts that lore can be used effectively in modern times. Gower shows no doubt that lore has something to say to his era. Chaucer's characters construe authority (lore) to suit their own ends; Gower's characters display an honest desire to learn. Chaucer and Gower also treat lust differently. Few of the Canterbury Tales combine meaning and delight. Gower avoids complex rhetorical figures, however, and focuses on his text, succeeding in mingling teaching and delight.