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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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SIMON HOROBINReview 9

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Simon Horobin Review Roy Vance Ramsey, A Revised Edition of the Manly-Rickert Text of the Canterbury Tales, with a foreword by Henry Ansgar Kelly (Lewiston: The Edwin Mellen Press, 2010). pp. xxviii + 691. Charles Moorman, The Statistical Determination of Af filiation in the Landmark Manuscripts of the Canterbury Tales (Lewiston: The Edwin Mellen Press, 1993). pp. xii + 209. The year 2010 marked the seventieth anniversary of the publication by Chicago University Press of the monumental eight-volume The Text of the Canterbury Tales: Studied on the Basis of All Known Manuscripts, edited by John M. Manly and Edith Rickert. To mark this anniversary, the Edwin Mellen Press have issued a second edition of Roy Vance Ramsey’s mono- graph study of the Manly and Rickert edition, with a biographical account of the project and its publication, and an attempt to explain, defend and extend its conclusions. In his preface to the first edition of this monograph, Ramsey began by conceding that ‘the presentation of a full-length monograph about a scholarly work now more than fifty years old requires an explanation and a defense’. The reissue of this work sixteen years later requires even more in the way of justification and explanation. This is particularly urgent, given that the only changes introduced in this revised edition concern the corrections of original errors, the provision of running heads and the addition of a picture of Chaucer on the front cover (p. viii). As a result, no reference is made to any scholarship...

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