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Material Moments in Book Cultures

Essays in Honour of Gabriele Müller-Oberhäuser

Edited By Simon Rosenberg and Sandra Simon

This Festschrift honours the dedicated book historian and medievalist Gabriele Müller-Oberhäuser. Her wide-ranging scholarly expertise has encouraged and influenced many adepts of the book. The essays in this volume reflect the variety of her interests: The contributions range from Chaucer’s Fürstenspiegel to the value of books in comedy, from the material book to the magical book in religious and literary cultures, from collaborative efforts in manuscript production to the relations of distributors of books across national and ideological boundaries, from the relations between the makers of books to the relation of readers to their books. Covering a period from the Middle Ages to the present, the volume concludes with a look at the future of book history as a field of study.
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Prologue: “This litel tretys”: Chaucer’s Mirror for Princes The Tale of Melibee

Extract

← 1 | 2 → ← 2 | 3 →

 

Ulrike Graßnick, Universität Trier

Abstract

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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