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Chaucer in Context

A Golden Age of English Poetry

Edited By Gerald Morgan

The study of the work of Geoffrey Chaucer – still regarded as a literary genius more than 600 years after his death – centres on the problems of detailed readings of his poetry (including in some cases the textual authority for these readings) and the historical context that gives them meaning. In some ways, the modern understanding of the shaping historical context was undermined in the second half of the twentieth century by the dogmatism of Robertsonian Augustinianism, as a basis for the interpretation of medieval literature in general and of Chaucer’s poetry in particular, and at the same time by the reactions of determined opposition provoked by this approach. Undeniably, medieval views often fail to coincide with modern ones and they are frequently uncomfortable for modern readers. Nevertheless, Chaucer’s brilliance as an observer of the human scene coexists with and irradiates these unfamiliar medieval ideas. The essays in this volume explore in detail the historical context of Chaucer’s poetry, in which orthodox Catholic ideas rather than revolutionary Wycliffite ones occupy the central position. At the same time, they offer detailed readings of his poetry and that of his famous contemporaries in an attempt to do justice to the independent and original work of these poetic masters, writing in the great royal households of England in the period 1360-1400.


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Abbreviations ix


Abbreviations Chaucer’s Works Anel. Anelida and Arcite BD The Book of the Duchess FranT Franklin’s Tale GP General Prologue HF The House of Fame KnT Knight’s Tale LGW Legend of Good Women MancT Manciple’s Tale PF The Parliament of Fowls Retr. Retraction TC Troilus and Criseyde I refer to the Canterbury Tales by A, B, C, etc. and italicise individual tales, e.g. the Knight’s Tale. I recognise the merit of I, II, III, etc. and the Knight’s Tale. I am here simply following my own long-established practice, but I assume that there are in reality only eight and not ten fragments. Sources and Works of Reference Aen. Aeneid Havely N.R. Havely (trans.), Chaucer’s Boccaccio: Sources of ‘Troilus’ and the ‘Knight’s’ and ‘Franklin’s Tales’, Chaucer Studies V (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 1980) x Abbreviations McCoy Bernadette Marie McCoy (trans.), The Book of Theseus: ‘Teseida delle Nozze d’Emilia’ by Giovanni Boccaccio (New York: Medieval Text Association, 1974) MED Middle English Dictionary, edited by Hans Kurath, Sherman M. Kuhn, Robert E. Lewis and others, 13 vols (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1952–2001) ODNB Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, edited by H.C.G. Matthew and Brian Harrison, 60 vols (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004) PL Patrologia Latina, edited by J-P. Migne, 217 vols (Paris, 1844–1855) PPl Piers Plowman RR Le Roman de la rose RT Le Roman de Thèbes SGGK Sir Gawain and the Green Knight ST Summa theologiae Tes. Teseida Theb. Thebaid Journals and Series ANQ American Notes and Queries CFMA...

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