The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
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.