The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Allen, Peter L. "Reading Chaucer's Good Women." 21 (1987): 419-34.
The women Chaucer portrays in the Legend of Good Women are both writers and readers. In the Prologue, however, Chaucer asserts that, where possible, experience is a better authority than books. The prologue to the Legend of Good Women also raises questions regarding Chaucer's earlier works. Because the legends force readers to dispute their judgment and their ability to read perceptively, the legends highlight the reading process. Chaucer undermines the authority forcing him to write the legends especially in his use of abbreviatio and occupatio (occultatio) and in the alteration of his sources to make difficult women into tractable ones. By compelling the reader to challenge the narrator and the authorities, Chaucer pushes readers to become confident in their own judgment.
Berger, Harry, Jr. "The F-Fragment of the Canterbury Tales: Part I." 1 (1966): 88-102.
The Squire's Tale may be about magic, but the Squire tells the tale in such a way that he spends an inordinately large amount of time announcing what he will not include. The material that the Squire chooses to include is often complicated and awkward, but it reveals his interests and how he wants his audience to think of him. Clearly, the Squire desires the noble life of the past as does the Knight, but he gets in the way of his own story. Unfortunately, the Squire is not as skilled a narrator as the Knight. Where the Knight can use disclaimers, occupatio, apologies, and style shifts to control the tale,the Squire's use of the same devices indicates that he has lost control of his story. The Franklin points to the Squire's advantage of birth and urges the Squire to cultivate his natural tendencies of gentillesse into knightly virtues, but he also points out the dangers of the aristocratic idyll. Like the Knight and the Squire, the Franklin also wants to see the renewal of courtly ideals, but he realizes that one must be detached from them to see their weaknesses and correct them.
Christianson, Paul. "Chaucer's Literacy." 11 (1976): 112-27.
As a reader himself, Chaucer requires that his readers notice the effort involved in reading and writing. References to reading in Chaucer's works demonstrate Chaucer's belief that words conceal in order to reveal. The use of occupatio reminds readers of the time they must expend in order to read or to write. Chaucer does, however, show a skeptical attitude towards the idea that language must not replicate the world, but tell the truth about it. For him, experience is not an appropriate test for language. Ultimately, Chaucer forces his reader to see the problem of thinking and knowing.
Frank, Robert W., Jr. "The Legend of The Legend of Good Women." 1 (1966): 110-33.
The idea that the good women bored Chaucer has halted criticism of the Legend, though writers immediately following Chaucer's death seemed unaware that Chaucer thought the project unpleasant, and the Legend of Good Women remained a part of literary fare into the fifteenth century. Nineteenth-century critics derived the idea that the Legend bored Chaucer from the project's unfinished state and other assumptions about Chaucer's literary development not drawn from the work itself. Others point to passages of "mocking, humorous tone" (116). References to various women in the Book of the Duchess, the House of Fame, and the Parliament of Fowls, however, suggest that the material for the Legend had interested Chaucer for some time. He also rewrote the Prologue and mentioned the Legend in the Man of Law's Tale, surely not acts of boredom. Other passages which have been used to demonstrate Chaucer's boredom with his subject are in fact occupatio. The humorous tone does not present a problem because Chaucer characteristically lightens serious moments and because the topic itself (good women) evokes satire.
Kahrl, Stanley J. "Chaucer's Squire's Tale and the Decline of Chivalry." 7 (1973): 194-209.
The magical elements in the Squire's Tale have no sources because the Squire wants to create an effect, not a congruous story which suggests a movement towards the exotic and disorderly in late medieval courts. The Squire chooses an unusual setting in order to surpass Arthurian romances. Like the Knight, the Squire uses occupatio, but his comes off as a proud demonstration of his rhetorical knowledge. The Franklin deliberately interrupts the Squire to save him from embarrassing himself and to avoid any futher misconstructions of eloquence and gentillesse. The Squire's inability to tell his tale and to present an accurate representation of chivalric virtues demonstrates the decline of chivalry from an ideal code of behavior to a game.
Luxon, Thomas H. "'Sentence' and 'Solaas': Proverbs and Consolation in the Knight's Tale." 22 (1987): 94-111.
In the Knight's Tale "sentence" and "solaas" frequently oppose each other. At the end of the tale Theseus propounds the belief that Fortune controls life, but the tale contains many seemingly irrational events. By forcusing on pain, Chaucer disrupts his audience's sense of an ordered world. Occasionally the narrator asks readers to share pain, but sometimes, the speaker seems to attempt to separate readers from the pain. Distancing techniques include clinical, descriptive language, occupatio, proverbs, and conventional wisdom. Finally, the Knight shows that "sentence" follows a struggle for "solaas."
Scala, Elizabeth. "Canacee and the Chaucer Canon: Incest and Other Unnarratables." 30 (1995): 15-39.
The narrative strategy of the Canterbury Tales creates individualized pilgrims and makes readers conscious of Chaucer, the author constructing the narratives. The introduction to the Man of Law's Tale points toward the texts of other authors, such as Gower's Confessio amantis, and even indicates other texts written by Chaucer, the "Legend of Medea" for example. The double indications of the text force readers to remain conscious of the pilgrim and of Chaucer, both tellers of the same tale. The Man of Law's Tale, however, does exactly what he proclaimed it could not. Such denial only highlights the Man of Law's fears about the story he might tell. The reference in the Squire's Tale to Canacee reminds the audience of the incest motif that undergirds the Canterbury Tales. Both tales may be considered in terms of absence: the Man of Law's Tale presents a story it was not going to tell, and the Squire's Tale is not at all about its stated subject. That the Squire's Tale is unfinished merely underscores its subject--gaps and absences. The Squire's use of occupatio draws attention to the weaknesses of such a tradition. In the Squire's Tale, then, reader see the importance of the unnarrated material preceding and following the tale.
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.