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From «Beowulf» to Caxton

Studies in Medieval Languages and Literature, Texts and Manuscripts

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Edited By Tomonori Matsushita, A.V.C. Schmidt and David J. Wallace

Senshu University has hosted many international conferences on medieval English literature – primarily on Geoffrey Chaucer and William Langland – as well as in the related fields of Old Germanic, medieval French and Renaissance Italian literature. These international collaborations inform and contribute to the present volume, which addresses the heritage bequeathed to medieval English language and literature by the classical world.
This volume explores the development of medieval English literature in light of contact with Germanic and Old Norse cultures, on the one hand, and Romance languages, on the other. The book includes a comparative study of Beowulf in the Germanic context, discusses aspects of Piers Plowman and its tradition, and offers philological approaches to Chaucer (especially his Troilus and Criseyde). The articles assembled here collectively suggest how the torches of classical learning were carried from continental Europe to illuminate the pages of medieval English literature.

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Yoshiyuki Nakao - 6. Textual Variations in Troilus and Criseyde and the Rise of Ambiguity -111

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Yoshiyuki Nakao 6 Textual Variations in Troilus and Criseyde and the Rise of Ambiguity 6.0. Introduction The aim of this paper is to focus on some of the textual variations in Troilus and Criseyde and describe how they are likely to cause significant ambigui- ties. My discussion is threefold. First, I will propose a framework to describe ambiguities in Chaucer’s language in general. Second, I will show the textual status of Troilus and Criseyde with regard to its language diversity in late fourteenth-century London, manuscript production, early and modern editions and varieties of readers. Third, I will deal with some of the textual variations in terms of ambiguity. My primary concern here is with those passages descriptive of Criseyde’s shifting af fections. 6.1. The Rise of Ambiguity: The Double Prism Structure I will describe the double prism structure as a means of explaining how and why ambiguity is likely to occur. Empson’s (1930) description of ambiguity is dependent on types of contexts, but this cannot easily be applied here because these contexts are not easily classified. My description is expression- orientated in that it operates according to the way in which these expres- sions can be observed and described, whether separately or in combination. Each variety of expression, whether it is a word or phrase, or the text as a whole, constitutes a layer of its own semantic production. In describing 112 Yoshiyuki Nakao ambiguous expressions, I have given ‘addresser’ and ‘addressee’ more than ‘accessory’ importance (cf. Jakobson 1960: 353)...

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