The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Beidler, Peter G. "Chaucer's Reeve's Tale, Boccaccio's Decameron IX, 6, and Two 'Soft' German Analogues." 28 (1994): 237-51.
Chaucer was most likely familiar with Decameron IX, 6, a story quite similar in many ways to the Reeve's Tale. Close comparison of the various analogues reveals a series of specific similarities--not present in other analogues--between Chaucer's version of the cradle-trick story and Boccaccio's. Critics should make a distinction between various kinds of analogues. A "source" is a story that Chaucer is known to have used directly; a "hard analogue" is one that he probably knew, to judge by the date of the analogue, the language in which it was written, and the details of plot and characterization, but that cannot be proven to be a direct source; a "soft analogue" is one that Chaucer could scarcely have known, to judge by the date, the language in which it was written, and the lack of specific similarities. Decameron IX, 6 is a hard analogue because Chaucer knew Boccaccio's work, knew the Italian language, and adopted certain details not available in other known analogues. On the other hand, two German tales are soft analogues. Chaucer presumably did not know either Das Studentenabenteuer or Rüdiger von Munre's Irregang und Girregar. No evidence shows that Chaucer knew German or was familiar with German literature. While both of the German tales share certain similarities with the Reeve's Tale, there are fundamental differences between these versions and Chaucer's cradle-trick story.
Beidler, Peter G. "The Reeve's Tale and Its Flemish Analogue." 26 (1992): 283-92.
The Flemish Een bispel van .ij. clerken, a derivative of Jean Bodel's Old French De Gombert et des deux clers, is a likely source for the Reeve's Tale. Chaucer probably also knew the Old French tale from which the Flemish version derives. Careful analysis of ten elements in De Gombert and the Flemish version shows how each contributes to the Reeve's Tale.
Brewer, Derek S. "The Reeve's Tale and the King's Hall, Cambridge." 5 (1971): 311-17.
Though no accounts indicate that King's Hall was ever called Soler Hall, records do indicate that King's Hall during Chaucer's time was occasionally called Scoler Hall. Thus, "Soler" may be an error for "Scoler," and the Reeve may indeed refer specifically to King's Hall, Cambridge, when he tells us that Aleyn and John are students in Solar Hall.
Brown, Peter. "The Containment of Symkyn: The Function of Space in the Reeve's Tale." 14 (1980): 225-36.
Chaucer's source for the Reeve's Tale, the French fabliau Le Meunier et les II Clercs, treats space far more generally than Chaucer, who presents a three-dimensional locale to his readers. Establishing distance and placement of the beds in the tale creates a stage for the later farcical actions. As the speed of the action increases in the course of the tale, Chaucer shifts senses so that the characters do not see the room, but feel it, further delineating the space. Symkyn's discourse after his trickery also employs terms of space. By getting all of their grain from the Miller, John and Alan reduce the space he controls at the end of the tale, and the spatial elements of the tale underscore this action.
Campbell, Thomas P. "Machaut and Chaucer: Ars Nova and the Art of Narrative." 24 (1990): 275-89.
Chaucer's narratives borrow both from Machaut's poetry and his music. The dissonance of conflicting solutions to an enigma, the simultaneity of events, and the nested perspectives found in poems like the Parliament of Fowls and the Knight's, Nun's Priest's, Merchant's, and Reeve's Tales can all be traced to medieval music. Examination of Machaut's ballad "Je Puis Trop Bien" demonstrates corresponding qualities of medieval music, especially the ballad form. Cursory examination of this ballad shows that contrast between music and the poetry joined to it was the mode. Scrutiny of the Miller's Tale shows that it uses all the musical techniques found in Machaut's ballad to maintain its unity.
Correale, Robert M. "Chaucer's Parody of Compline in the Reeve's Tale." 1 (1967): 161-66.
The clerks distort the prayers of the Compline service in their curse of the miller and his family, and also in their "swyving" of the miller's wife and daughter. Chaucer then parodies the secular aube (morning song). The action of the tale parodies one of the most solemn Compline prayers.
Ebin, Lois. "Chaucer, Lydgate, and the 'Myrie tale.'" 13 (1979): 316-35.
Chaucer and the Host generate different definitions of the qualities of a good tale, and their definitions differ from Lydgate's perception. The Host operates under the definition that good stories compel the audience's attention and entertain. Chaucer seems, however, to operate under a different definition, one that examines the skill of the story-teller. This concern appears most clearly in the Reeve's Tale and the Man of Law's Tale. Chaucer further develops his concern with writing by connecting rhetorical skill to the intent of the story-teller as in the Merchant's, Squire's, Franklin's, and Pardoner's Tales. The Host's response to Melibee raises the question of multiple possible meanings. The Parson's Tale suggests an additional element of a good tale--audience benefit or edification. In Siege of Thebes, Lydgate suggests that a good tale both entertains and edifies. Lydgate moves away from his sources in order to emphasize virtues that the ruling class would imitate and to propound the power of words over the power of the sword.
Feinstein, Sandy. "The Reeve's Tale: About that Horse." 26 (1991): 99-106.
Though many scholars have posited that the horse in the Reeve's Tale is a stallion, agricultural records show that it is probably a gelding, thus suggesting an allegory of spiritual powerlessness resulting from a loss of self-control. The work of Lucius Junius Moderatus Columella and the Palladius on Husbandrie present the medieval view of stallions. Even if the animal is gelded, it may still experience sexual desire, and the Reeve himself exemplifies this fact. As a gelding, the horse stands for both the miller, the clerks, and the Reeve himself.
Fisher, John H. "The Three Styles of Fragment I of the Canterbury Tales." 8 (1973): 119-27.
John of Garland sets out three distinctions of style determined by class: courtiers, citizens, and rural folk. Though scholars are not sure that Chaucer knew Garland, the Knight's, Miller's, and Reeve's Tales can be shown to represent his distinctions. Close reading of the Knight's and Miller's Tales shows how the Miller's Tale parodies the Knight's Tale point for point. The Reeve's Tale is of the lowest class, depicting only animal passion. Examining the Summoner's Tale in light of class influences on language and behavior tells readers why it focuses on scatalogical rather than sexual humor. Garland's distinctions provide an additional way to examine the Canterbury Tales.
Friedman, John Block. "A Reading of Chaucer's Reeve's Tale." 2 (1967): 8-19.
The Reeve's use of animal imagery in his tale far exceeds the number of animals usually found in fabliaux. Some of the animals Chaucer added are associated with various sins, thus suggesting a moral reading in addition to the humorous one.
Gallacher, Patrick J. "Chaucer and the Rhetoric of the Body." 28 (1994): 216-36.
Chaucer makes a number of different references to the body, treating the body in a number of different ways. Given different conditions, for example sickness and health, the body can be a stumbling block or a thing of beauty. Dante plays on this dichotomy in the Commedia. In medieval works, the treatment of the body is split between that of subject and object. In the Knight's Tale, Chaucer's treatment of Arcite's body results in irony and comedy. In Troilus and Criseyde the body becomes "a locus of acting and being acted upon" (221). Troilus's denial of involvement in any of Pandarus's plots makes him morally and physically inactive. Further examination of the relationship between Troilus and Criseyde reveals an imbalance of activity and passivity which ultimately contributes to a "pattern of merit and grace" (225). Griselda uses the description of her nakedness to draw attention to Walter's abuses of marriage in the Clerk's Tale. Both the Prioress's Tale and the Reeve's Tale examine the body in terms of stasis and movement. The treatment of the body as subject and object also appears in the Second Nun's Tale. Some characters and tales deride the human body, for example the Pardoner and the Manciple,. This attitude also appears in the Summoner's Tale.
Garbáty, Thomas J. "Satire and Regionalism: The Reeve and His Tale." 9 (1973): 1-8.
By indicating that the Reeve comes from Baldeswelle, Chaucer creates regional satire since inhabitants of that area had been emigrating to London in droves. As Chaucer describes him, the Reeve would probably have been an agent for Norfolk landowners, and as such, the other pilgrims would have viewed the Reeve with suspicion. Because of the increasing influence of the Central Midlands dialect, the pilgrims would have thought the Reeve's speech barbarous and barely understandable. Thus the Reeve's imitation of John's and Alan's northern dialect appears as a funny attempt to defend his own dialect.
Jensen, Emily. "Male Competition as a Unifying Motif in Fragment A of the Canterbury Tales." 24 (1990): 320-28.
The tales in Group I descend in genre and character from courtly romance to fabliau, from knights to peasants. In Group I, this descent occurs in terms of male competion, both in the tales and between the pilgrims. The competition centers on a woman who becomes increasingly more active and more objectified as the tales progress. Examination of the Knight's, Miller's, Reeve's, and Cook's Tales clearly demonstrates this downward movement. The links between these tales are focused on "quiting," also a form of competition. The pun on "queynte" and the rhymes formed with "wyf" as the tales continue emphasize the progressive objectification of women.
Kohanski, Tamarah. "In Search of Maleyne." 27 (1993): 228-68.
In the Reeve's Tale Maleyne is often considred a non-entity, and most critics read her as a fabliau female, a willing participant in the sexual games the clerks play. In fact, Chaucer presents her as a mix of high- and low-born characteristics, and leaves her level of sexual activity open to question. She does not have time to cry out against Alan when he comes to her bed, and Chaucer presents no evidence that she is complicit in such activity.
Lancashire, Ian. "Sexual Innuendo in the Reeve's Tale." 6 (1972): 159-70.
Innuendo in the Reeve's Tale is not limited to a few puns, but underlies the whole tale. The language of milling is filled with sexual puns. Readers recognize that John and Alan repay Symkyn in kind, but in a punning way. Chaucer added the innuendo to emphasize the poetically just ending.
Mandel, Jerome. "Courtly Love in the Canterbury Tales." 19 (1985): 277-89.
In the Canterbury Tales, Chaucer occasionally uses the trappings of courtly love as seen in the Clerk's, Merchant's, Shipman's, Squire's, Franklin's, Cook's, Reeve's, Miller's, and Knight's Tales, and the Tale of Sir Thopas. In the Canterbury Tales as a whole, however, Chaucer does not hold up courtly love as positive or important.
Plummer, John F. "Hooly Chirches Blood: Simony and Patrimony in Chaucer's Reeve's Tale." 18 (1983): 49-60.
In the Reeve's Tale the parson sins by giving brass vessels belonging to the church to Symkyn, thus connecting the parson to the group of evil clerics who care for their illegitimate children with church funds. In the end, Malyne suffers for the sins of her father and grandfather. Alan buys her maidenhead for half a bushel of flour, but Malyne has neither flour nor maidenhead by morning.
Ruggiers, Paul G. "Platonic Forms in Chaucer." 17 (1983): 366-82.
Chaucer builds his poetry around four different topics, "1) eating and drinking; 2) sexuality and love; 3) play and seriousness; and 4) the making of art" (367). Drinking has religious overtones of suffering, and the drinking image appears in the Reeve's, Pardoner's, Man of Law's, and Franklin's Tales as well as in Troilus and Criseyde and the House of Fame. Chaucer treats love in four different ways as seen in Troilus and Criseyde, and in the Miller's , Reeve's, and Second Nun's Tales. Furthermore the Canterbury Tales as a whole experiments with the theme of play, examining play from a number of different points of view. Chaucer also investigates what it is to create a literary work, a theme particularly present in the Tale of Sir Thopas and the Tale of Melibee.
Schuman, Samuel. "The Link Mechanism in the Canterbury Tales." 20 (1986): 200-06.
Chaucer structures the Canterbury Tales in such a way that the portraits are linked to one another by common themes or images. That the tales are linked in much the same way contributes to the reader's sense that the Miller's Tale is a lower class version of the Knight's Tale, and the Reeve's Tale is a ugly version of the Miller's Tale. This structure is quite similar to the Great Chain of Being.
Tkacz, Catherine Brown. "Chaucer's Beard-Making." 18 (1983): 127-36.
In the Reeve's Tale Chaucer puns on the name of St. Cuthberd, making him St. Cutberd (Deceiver). Chaucer employs the word "berd" elsewhere, giving it sexual overtones. When the Reeve uses "reve," he connects Symkyn to himself and not to the Miller whom the Reeve wanted to requite for his tale.
Turner, Frederick. "A Structuralist Analysis of the Knight's Tale." 8 (1974): 279-98.
The myth on which the Knight's Tale is based contains all the experiences of its culture, leaving no place for questions. Thus, the tale is structured around a number of different oppositions which can be examined in light of the disputatio tradition in medieval logic: Mars to Venus, male to female, and youth to age. The structure of the tale is also apparent in triads: one god and two goddesses, one woman and two suitors, two supplicants and one judge, and the colors associated with Venus (white), Mars (red), and Saturn (black). Each of these triangular structures invokes the hierarchy of medieval society. Finally, readers may examine the tale in light of quadratic structures. There are four primary characters associated with four colors (white, red, gold, and green), four seasons, four elements, and four humours. In addition, the two suitors are connected to two supernatural figures. Readers recognize the encompassing nature of the myth in the circular plot which coordinates a wedding and a funeral at the beginning and at the end. In addition, the circle of the list imitates the structure of the tale. As the tale is organized on kinship lines, readers may also consider the tale in terms of sibling relationships and social taboos on sexual practices. The Miller's Tale requites the Knight's Tale by structural variations. In the Miller's Tale, art overpowers myth, making the tale "mock-mythic" (293). The Reeve's Tale seems to participate in similar structural variation, although certain parts of the structure have disappeared. Such analysis suggests that the General Prologue presents the whole poem in miniature.
Woods, William F. "The Logic of Deprivation in the Reeve's Tale." 30 (1995): 150-63.
In the Reeve's Tale Chaucer analyzes economic practices. The fundamental ideology underlying the tale contradicts that of the Miller's Tale since the Miller's Tale is a tale of possessing while the Reeve's Tale is a tale of preying. In the concentric structure of the Reeve's Tale, Symkyn preys on the clerks who prey on his family in revenge. Ultimately Chaucer reveals that an economy of predators "creates an overwhelming need for restitution" (160).
Yager, Susan. "'A whit thyng in hir ye': Perception and Error in the Reeve's Tale." 28 (1994): 393-404.
Several passages in the Reeve's Tale refer to sight and perception, and often those passages use university language. The passage on the "whit thyng" (4301) alters the university discussions so as to empower the miller's wife by giving her the ability to perceive. In university discussions, the white thing would usually become clearer, revealing itself as a human male, though this process allows great room for error. As Chaucer also demonstrates in Troilus and Criseyde, women's perceptions of men are determined by outside forces. The wife in the Reeve's Tale also shows the propensity of humankind to err.