The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Krochalis, Jeanne E. "The Books and Reading of Henry V and His Circle." 23 (1988): 50-77.
Because the English court did not systematically catalogue their libraries, scholars know little about the reading habits of the English courtiers. The exceptions are Thomas of Woodstock whose books were catalogued when his property was confiscated, and a French scribe who catalogued the royal library in 1535. Records showing book purchases and commissionings, wills, and other historical and legal documents provide the rest of the knowledge we have. Henry V's library reveals that he was not as interested in collecting the books as he was in reading them.
Orme, Nicholas. "Chaucer and Education." 16 (1981): 38-59.
Concern with education is a part of Chaucer's work, though it does not figure as a central concern in most of it. In Chaucer's source, the home was a place of instruction, particularly in religious prayers and rituals both for aristocratic and common homes alike. Virginia is the best example of an educated aristocratic lady who was taught on a curriculum nearly equivalent to the masculine one. Though beatings were common, Chaucer suggests that masters exercise patience. Chaucer treats his clerks and university scholars gently, not holding them to the same behavioral standards as prioresses or monks, and he shows a society in which both the upper and the middle classes are literate. The Wife of Bath's Tale is most blatantly about education, particularly in human relations.
Peck, Russell A. "Love, Politics, and Plot in the Parlement of Foules." 24 (1990): 290-305.
The Parliament of Fowls can be interpreted three different ways in light of political situations during Chaucer's lifetime. Identifying specific people with specific characters in the poem is the least fruitful method of approaching the poem. Readers may also interpret the poem In light of political philosophy, connecting the dream-vision material to neo-Aristotelian and Ciceronian materials on the ideal political body. Scrutiny of Chaucer's source, the Roman de la Rose, reveals another possible way to read the Parliament of Fowls . The kind of love presented in the Roman de la Rose is political in that it creates change, but is also changed itself. Chaucer maintains this kind of love in the Parliament of Fowls, and the conflict between love and politics drives the plot. The Parliament of Fowls is also about knowledge, reading, and movement from "narcissism to politics" (298). In the desire for enclosure and in the parliament itself, readers recognize the assertion of willful desire and see how desire can become political catastrophe.
Sharon-Zisser, Shirley. "The Squire's Tale and the Limits of Non-Mimetic Fiction." 26 (1992): 377-94.
The Squire's Tale is about the tension and limits of multiple ways of reading. The tale alternates between the poles of fantastic and metafictional narrative. The opening of the tale, the magical setting, and the way in which the knight creates an interruption and so disolves "the limits by which the recipients' society (and . . . the depicted society) defines and so orders its concept of 'reality'" (379) focus attention on the fantastic. The knight's language, strange to Cambyuskan's court, emphasizes his position as other. The gifts the knight brings force readers to read metafiction. Also, the narrator uses occupatio and diminutio to shift attention to the language and manner in which the tale is told. Both the metafictional and the fantastic ways of reading use the tension between "an ideal and a subversion of norms" (386), and both insist that readers use one particular method to the exclusion of the other. The Squire, in telling his tale, smudges the boundaries between literal and imaginative language. Ultimately the Squire's Tale forces readers to admit the boundaries of fiction.
Strohm, Paul A. "Chaucer's Audience(s): Fictional, Implied, Actual." 18 (1983): 137-45.
The pilgrims in the Canterbury Tales show us part of Chaucer's conception of his audience. Given evidence from his works, critics can establish an implied audience having a common body of knowledge. Chaucer's audience was able to recognize biblical allusions, for example. In light of the patronage system under which Chaucer wrote, scholars must admit the existence of an authorial intent to write for a specific audience, although most works were read by people outside of the intended group or person. Present knowledge of Chaucer's audience derives from the clues previously mentioned, but much remains to be examined.
Winstead, Karen A. "John Capgrave and the Chaucer Tradition." 30 (1996): 389-400.
Although Capgrave never directly refers to Chaucer, analysis of Capgrave's Life of St. Katherine of Alexandria indicates that he had some familiarity with Troilus and Criseyde and the Canterbury Tales. Capgrave's portrait of Katherine approaches the same question of the place of women in society which Chaucer examines in Troilus and Criseyde. Though Katherine is a saint and Criseyde is not, Katherine shares a number of qualities with Criseyde, including a reading mentality. Capgrave also follows in Chaucer's footsteps where he apologizes for the places where his work lacks something, when he claims to be a translator instead of a creative writer, and when he assures his reader that his account of Katherine's life is accurate. Capgrave discusses several issues that were not considered appropriate to discuss with the laity, but by creating an extremely intrusive narrator he avoids any authorial responsibility and censure. Though the ending of the Life of St. Katherine is complex, like the ending of Troilus and Criseyde, Capgrave reminds readers of authorial troubles, not of the transition from earthly to spiritual existence. Capgrave also expresses concern with how later readers will perceive what he writes.