The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Beidler, Peter G. "Chaucer's Reeve's Tale, Boccaccio's Decameron IX, 6, and Two 'Soft' German Analogues." 28 (1994): 237-51.
Chaucer was most likely familiar with Decameron IX, 6, a story quite similar in many ways to the Reeve's Tale. Close comparison of the various analogues reveals a series of specific similarities--not present in other analogues--between Chaucer's version of the cradle-trick story and Boccaccio's. Critics should make a distinction between various kinds of analogues. A "source" is a story that Chaucer is known to have used directly; a "hard analogue" is one that he probably knew, to judge by the date of the analogue, the language in which it was written, and the details of plot and characterization, but that cannot be proven to be a direct source; a "soft analogue" is one that Chaucer could scarcely have known, to judge by the date, the language in which it was written, and the lack of specific similarities. Decameron IX, 6 is a hard analogue because Chaucer knew Boccaccio's work, knew the Italian language, and adopted certain details not available in other known analogues. On the other hand, two German tales are soft analogues. Chaucer presumably did not know either Das Studentenabenteuer or Rüdiger von Munre's Irregang und Girregar. No evidence shows that Chaucer knew German or was familiar with German literature. While both of the German tales share certain similarities with the Reeve's Tale, there are fundamental differences between these versions and Chaucer's cradle-trick story.
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.
McGrady, Donald. "Chaucer and the Decameron Reconsidered." 12 (1977): 1-26.
Careful readers must reconsider the assumption that the Decameron is only marginally related to the Canterbury Tales. Likewise, the argument that Chaucer would not have known the Decameron because Boccaccio regretted writing it and wanted to prevent it from circulating must be rejected. Given the contacts Chaucer had with Florentine businessmen, he very likely read the Decameron before his first trip to Italy. Close reading of the Clerk's, Franklin's, Miller's, Merchant's, and Shipman's Tales reveals Chaucer's debt to Boccaccio's Decameron for elements which do not appear in any of Chaucer's other sources. The Miller's Tale, particularly borrows from three books of the Decameron. Chaucer seems, however, to have limited himself to borrowing details from the Decameron, perhaps in an effort to maintain a reputation for being an original poet.