The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Andreas, James. "'Newe science' from 'Olde bokes': A Bakhtinian Approach to the Summoner's Tale." 25 (1990): 138-51.
In the Summoner's Tale Chaucer festively inverts tradition so as not to present a perversion of Christianity. Authorities in the Middle Ages approved the romance form for tales, and the fabliau was a comic, carnivalesque inversion of the romance. In Chaucer's use of these forms, laughter is produced by placing the past in the present. The Summoner develops a conflict between a friar and a layman. The Summoner fits the profile of a carnival tale-teller as a parody of his profession who is damned according to tradition. Numerous other associations and details connect the Summoner with carnival tradition. Throughout the Summoner's Tale and the following tales, the attitude of carnival allows the Summoner and other pilgrims such as the Squire to parody Christian traditions.
Boucher, Holly Wallace. "Nominalism: The Difference for Chaucer and Boccaccio." 20 (1986): 213-20.
Dante and the poet of the Queste del Sainte Graal both believed that poetry revealed truth and imitated divine order. Chaucer and Boccaccio, however, display different attitudes toward literature. Nominalism altered artists' perception of literature so that by the fourteenth century, they no longer thought that art revealed truth or divine order. Fourteenth-century writers play with words and meanings, as Boccaccio does in the tale of Frate Cipolla and as Chaucer does in the Summoner's Tale.
Clark, Roy Peter. "Doubting Thomas in Chaucer's Summoner's Tale." 11 (1976): 164-78.
In the Summoner's Tale, Thomas and Friar John together imitate St. Thomas. The elderly, sick Thomas is a kind of "doubting Thomas." John is a perverted type of Thomas, the builder of churches. In the fart scene, the two Thomas-types merge in a parody of St. Thomas probing Christ's wounds. Chaucer underscores the parallel by using language similar to that used in accounts describing Thomas groping Christ's wounds. That Friar John receives a fart indicates the corrupt nature of his search for material, not spiritual, wealth.
East, W. G. "'By preeve which that is demonstratif.'" 12 (1977): 78-82.
The Wife of Bath's Tale, the Summoner's Tale, and the Friar's Tale discuss the weight of authority versus experience in resolving scholarly debate.
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.
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.
Gallacher, Patrick. "The Summoner's Tale and Medieval Attitudes towards Sickness." 21 (1986): 200-12.
In the Summoner's Tale, Chaucer alludes to the non-natural elements Galen posits as influential in recovering from sickness. In contradicting the medical tradition, the friar follows St. Ambrose who criticized physicians for instructing patients to avoid sorrow and contemplation while ill. The Summoner's Tale and the Friar's Tale, engage the dialectic between self and other, but this dialectic is affected by debate between the body and the soul in both tales. The Friar focuses on aesthetics and objective knowledge as a technique to distance oneself from the other. The Summoner focuses on the body. Integrating the concern for the body and soul results in self-knowledge which neither the Summoner nor the Friar attain.
Harwood, Britton J. "Chaucer on 'Speche': House of Fame, the Friar's Tale, and the Summoner's Tale." 26 (1992): 343-49.
The House of Fame, the Friar's Tale, and the Summoner's Tale share the image of a wheel and a focus on sound. Together these three function like the three parts of a sentence. In the House of Fame, Chaucer opposes the castle of Fame and the house of Rumor. The Friar's Tale works because the same group of words can have two meanings. The Summoner's Tale operates on exactly the opposite principle: many groups of words all mean the same thing.
Hasenfratz, Robert. "The Science of Flatulence: Possible Sources for the Summoner's Tale." 30 (1996): 241-61.
The source for the solution to the problem posed in the Summoner's Tale reveals Chaucer's interest in astronomy and weather. Discussions of wind were often associated with discussions of thunder and the associated sound. Certainly the solution to the problem posed at the end of Summoner's Tale refers to the fourth book of Vincent of Beauvais's Speculum naturale in which these relationships and the wheel of the twelve winds are presented and discussed.
Haskell, Ann S. "St. Simon in the Summoner's Tale." 5 (1971): 218-24.
Simon Magus (Simon the Magician), to whom Thomas's oath refers, had a varied history. Allusions to gold, books, ire, and fire, all associated with Simon Magus, indicate that Chaucer intended to link him closely to the friar. The closest link, however, is the fall, preceded by pride and followed by a thunderclap.
Martin, Daniel, and Margaret Wright. "A Further Note on 'Hostes man,' CT D 1755." 24 (1990): 271-73.
In the Summoner's Tale the phrase "hir hostes man" (1775) refers to the servant of the inn where the friars stay, not to a servant from their monastery who follows them on their travels.
Pulsiano, Phillip. "The Twelve-Spoked Wheel of the Summoner's Tale." 29 (1995): 382-89.
Chaucer's connection of wheel and wind in the Summoner's Tale may allude to the practice of dividing the compass in twelve parts, each associated with a particular wind. Such division was, however, rather difficult.
Richardson, Janette. "Friar and Summoner, the Art of Balance." 9 (1975): 227-36.
In the end, neither the Friar nor the Summoner wins the contest between them. Chaucer parallels the Friar and Summoner in their appearances, musical talents or lack thereof, vices, and shallow spirituality. Their tales are also structurally paralleled. Close reading of the Friar's and Summoner's tales demonstrates that both protagonists reflect the tellers and have features of the opposing pilgrim.