The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Blamires, A. "A Chaucer Manifesto." 24 (1989): 29-44.
The Prologue to the Legend of Good Women is a "poetic manifesto" (29). The poet struggles with Cupid's tyranny that has denied him the experience of love and forced him to rely on book knowledge. In the beginning the speaker focuses on book learning and devalues experience, a point of view closely associated with his religious sensibilities. Later however, the poet shifts his attention from books to daisies, thus directly contradicting his earlier stance. Because readers do not realize that the daisy represents Alceste, they laugh at the narrator's worship of the daisy and perceive heretical overtones in that activity. Thus in this instance, Chaucer proclaims himself a poet of texts, not of sight or experience.
Collette, Carolyn. "Seeing and Believing in the Franklin's Tale." 26 (1992): 395-410.
Readers can examine the Franklin's Tale in terms of medieval theories of sight, vision, and will. Chaucer's focus on sight and the illusions of appearance is an original addtion to the source material in the Filostrato, and Historia regnum Britanniae. Dorigen's complaint revolves around her perception of the rocks. Her agreement with Aurelius uses the different perceptions among people and also engages the appearance and reality debate, as does the episode with the Clerk of Orleans. For those living in the Middle Ages, "sight was the chief of the physical senses" (401). By Chaucer's time, people valued mystical insight in a neo-Platonic way. The neo-Platonic tradition conflicted with Aristotelian views in which sight corresponded to reality, and created new opinions regarding how sight and experience became knowledge. In the fourteenth century people became fascinated by optical science and how the ability to see physically interacts with mental acuity of perception. The ability to see was also related to the will and a person's ability to perceive truth, as Augustine shows in De trinitate. Dorigen's obsession with the sight of the rocks creates a situation in which the marriage vow is questioned, thereby engaging this debate. Chaucer also examines sight and perception in the Second Nun's Tale and the Canon's Yeoman's Tale.
Glenn, Jonathan A. "Dislocation of Kynde in the Middle English Cleanness." 18 (1983): 77-91.
In Purity (Cleanness), uncleanness results from a perversion of kind by fallen, naturally disobedient creatures. Such degeneration ends up in a collapse of the relationship to God and to other creatures. Cleanness is the product of obedience to God. Both Lucifer and Adam sin against their natures as creatures. Noah, on the other hand, maintains his obedient position as creature and so does not sin. By not following their natures as creations, unclean creatures are blind. Clean creatures, however, can see.
Rosenberg, Bruce A. "The Contrary Tales of the Second Nun and the Canon's Yeoman." 2 (1968): 278-91.
Though the Second Nun's Tale seems to reveal little complexity or artistry, when read in conjunction with the Canon's Yeoman's Tale, it demonstrates both. St. Cecile's story may be read in terms of alchemy: her body (base material) must be "mortified" so that her soul (the perfect thing) may ascend to heaven. Chaucer also develops a contrast between sight and blindness. Cecilia can see spiritually, but the Canon's Yeoman sees only physically. The link between these two tales is that they show two polarities.
Taylor, Paul Beekman. "Chaucer's Eye of the Lynx and the Limits of Vision." 28 (1993): 67-77.
Chaucer adds the image of the lynx's eye to his translation of Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy. Jean de Meun also uses the traditional qualities of Lynceus's eyes. Alanus de Insulis's Anticlaudianus and Adam de la Bassée's gloss, as well as the works of Eustache Deschamps, also use this image for sharp sight. Isidore of Seville and John Trevisa's translation of Proprietatibus associate the lynx with the ruby, giving the stone extraordinary healing qualities. Chaucer questions the insight associated with the lynx's eye in the Monk's Tale. Ultimately it becomes a symbol "of the limits of the artist's ability to see and express the perfection of form beneath the ugly matter of things" (75).