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The Shaping of English Poetry – Volume IV

Essays on 'The Battle of Maldon', Chrétien de Troyes, Dante, 'Sir Gawain and the Green Knight' and Chaucer

Gerald Morgan

This fourth volume of essays under the title The Shaping of English Poetry consolidates the work of the previous three volumes on the great subjects of English literature in the Medieval and Renaissance periods. The Norman Conquest of England built upon the rich foundation of Anglo-Saxon England but did not destroy it; thus the present volume begins with the commemoration of English heroism in The Battle of Maldon. In the late twelfth century we encounter in Chrétien de Troyes's seminal romance Le Chevalier de la Charrete a new kind of hero in Lancelot, abject and obedient before his mistress, although Chrétien himself is not an uncritical admirer of the sanctity of adulterous love. Hence the importance of Dante's exposition of love in Purgatorio, XVIII, which forms a background to the essays here on Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and the Parliament of Fowls. The volume concludes with essays on Chaucer's Knight's, Monk's and Nun's Priest's Tales, which form part of a long-term project to interpret the Canterbury Tales as a unified whole and not merely a series of fragments awaiting revision on Chaucer's death.


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Acknowledgments vii Abbreviations ix Preface xxi 1 The Battle of Maldon: The Commemoration of an Heroic Sacrifice 1 2 The Conflict of Love and Chivalry in Le Chevalier de la Charrete 21 3 The Movement of Love in the Interior Senses and in the Intellect: An Explanation of Purgatorio, XVIII.22–24 69 4 The Goodness of Sir Gawain in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight 81 5 Nature and the Bird-Debate in the Parliament of Fowls 101 6 Chaucer’s Tellers and Tales and the Design of the Canterbury Tales 129 7 The Campaigns of Chaucer’s Knight 161 8 Chaucer’s Knight’s Tale: The Book of the Duke 195 9 The Grand Design of the Monk’s Tale 231 10 The Function of Rhetoric in the Nun’s Priest’s Tale 269 Index 303

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