The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Eberle, Patricia J. "Commercial Language and the Commercial Outlook in the General Prologue." 18 (1983): 161-74.
The references to money in the Canterbury Tales show Chaucer's assumptions of a financially sophisticated audience aware of venal satire. In the courtly love tradition, money was spoken of only as a reward or gift, and commercial activities were ignored. The fabliau maintains this distinction, since characters focus on spending and earning. The General Prologue, however, assumes characteristics of both romance and fabliau, thus implying that Chaucer wrote for an audience that would appreciate both traditions. The Host points out that time is money and that poetry is idleness. The pilgrims treat each other in such a way as to suggest that professions, and therefore money, are closely linked to who people are.
Ganim, John M. "Double Entry in Chaucer's Shipman's Tale." Chaucer and Bookkeeping before Pacioli." 30 (1996): 294-305.
The Shipman's Tale exploits the invention of double-entry bookkeeping as a structural principle. The language of accounting informs the tale as is clear in the money-sex transactions in both the relationship between the wife and the monk and the relationship between the wife and the merchant. Like accounts on a page in double-entry bookkeeping, recommended by Pacioli as a way to keep order in accounts, the two relationships seem separate, connecting only at the point of payment.
Jordan, Carmel. "Soviet Archeology and the Setting of the Squire's Tale." 22 (1987): 128-40.
Archaelogical research reveals that the city of Sarai, the setting for the Squire's Tale, was a center of international trade. Chaucer could have gained knowledge of Sarai from Genoese merchants who had strong trade ties to Sarai. Records indicate the exotic beauty of the city in art, sculpture, and architecture, and ruins also show that the Khans who lived in Sarai had a great interest in magic. In the Squire's Tale Chaucer skillfully combines setting with details in the tale.
Justman, Stewart. "Trade as Pudendum: Chaucer's Wife of Bath." 28 (1994): 344-52.
For the most part, Chaucer protects his pilgrims from criticism, though the types he presents certainly have their weaknesses. But, the Wife of Bath attracts criticism for her prosperity earned from trading, and Chaucer presents her desire for economic and social merchandise as "folly" and the "the ancestral license of Woman" (345). The Wife is a natural woman in whom the most deplored traits of the merchant class openly exist. Her self-interest and her treatment of marriage as a second-best state refers to trade, a second-best occupation of self-interest.
Knight, Alan E. "Drama and Society in Late Medieval Flanders and Picardy." 14 (1980): 379-89.
Historical records indicate that cities in Flanders became increasingly autonomous, but dramatic records show a cooperative spirit and friendly competition balancing negative influences. Interurban dramatic contests were often organized for special occasions including noble births, liturgical festivals, and local celebrations. The host city would often subsidize troupes from other cities and was expected to send troupes those cities in return. The dramatic troupes maintained goodwill among cities.
Martindale, Wight, Jr. "Chaucer's Merchants: A Trade-Based Speculation on Their Activities." 26 (1992): 309-16.
Most scholars read Chaucer's merchants negatively. The merchants do not, however, participate in any activities outside the realm of business dealings traditional for medieval merchants. In the Shipman's Tale the merchant of St. Denis most likely traded in cloth, and though complicated, his business transactions are not illegal. He would probably have been a client of a merchant like the one portrayed in the General Prologue who probably traded in foreign currency or operated a lending bank.
Woods, William F. "A Professional Thyng: The Wife as Merchant's Apprentice in the Shipman's Tale." 24 (1989): 139-49.
Chaucer alters the sources for the Shipman's Tale, strengthening the position of the wife. In so doing, he makes the wife a mirror image of her merchant husband. Because readers see the tale from her point of view, they recognize "the virtues and the compromises essential to 'driving forth the world'" (139). The tale is built around trade and trade metaphors. Through the various shifts in the tale, the wife achieves rule of herself and her household. The agricultural / financial metaphor now works in the wife's favor. She maintains her power after the monk reveals her debt to the merchant by her commitment to the rise and fall of the marketplace.
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).