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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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I. Chaucer’s Works Anel. Anelida and Arcite BD The Book of the Duchess CkT The Cook’s Tale ClT The Clerk’s Tale CT The Canterbury Tales FranT The Franklin’s Tale GP General Prologue HF The House of Fame KnT The Knight’s Tale LGW The Legend of Good Women MancT The Manciple’s Tale MerT The Merchant’s Tale MilT The Miller’s Tale MkT The Monk’s Tale MLT The Man of Law’s Tale NPT The Nun’s Priest’s Tale PardT The Pardoner’s Tale ParsT The Parson’s Tale PF The Parliament of Fowls Retr. Retraction Romaunt The Romaunt of the Rose RvT The Reeve’s Tale SNT The Second Nun’s Tale SumT The Summoner’s Tale TC Troilus and Criseyde Thop The Tale of Sir Thopas WBProl The Wife of Bath’s Prologue x Abbreviations I refer to the fragments of The Canterbury Tales as I, II, III, etc. and to indi- vidual tales as, for example, the Knight’s Tale, that is, following the order of the Ellesmere MS and rejecting the Bradshaw Shift, but assuming that there are in reality only eight and not ten fragments. I thus abandon my own long-established practice (A, B, C, etc. for the fragments combined with the italicisation of individual tales) as followed in the previous three volumes on the persuasive advice of my old friend Mr Nicolas Jacobs, Fellow of Jesus College, Oxford, and in the process emphasise the unity of The Canterbury Tales itself as a finished work. II. Sources and Works of Reference A Chaucer Glossary Norman Davis and...

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