Essays in Honour of Gabriele Müller-Oberhäuser
Edited By Simon Rosenberg and Sandra Simon
Prologue: “This litel tretys”: Chaucer’s Mirror for Princes The Tale of Melibee
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Ulrike Graßnick, Universität Trier
This essay aims at demonstrating that the Tale of Melibee is underestimated and that Chaucer is well aware of the genre mirrors for princes, its function, concept and implications. It argues that the tale is a political statement by an author who sees himself as a member of the political field.
Beyond doubt, Harry Bailly2 is a talent in public relations: Not only is he a member of the group of pilgrims Geoffrey Chaucer sent on their way to Canterbury but he is also a smart businessman and as such he proposes a storytelling contest which aims at lightening up the pilgrimage. As is well known, the ← 3 | 4 → promised award for the best tale is a free dinner – “a soper at oure aller cost”3 – at Harry Bailly’s Tabard at Southwark, a prize that promises good business for the host as he hopes that all pilgrims will dine at his inn on their return from Canterbury. Harry Bailly is therefore all but responsible for the Canterbury Tales4 and generations of readers were delighted by the various tales told by the pilgrims.
Even more than 600 years later and in light of their variety and the fragmentariness of the Canterbury Tales, one might ask whether the Knight was expected to be the safe winner of the tale-telling contest and what the pilgrim Chaucer5 had been thinking as...
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