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Chaucer and Petrarch

Chaucer and Petrarch

Series: Chaucer Studies
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 250
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  • Book Info
    Chaucer and Petrarch
    Book Description:

    Despite the fact that Chaucer introduced Petrarch's work into England in the late fourteenth century, Petrarch's influence has been very little studied. This book, the first full-length study of Chaucer's reading and translation of Petrarch, examines Chaucer's translations of Petrarch's Latin prose and Italian poetry against the backdrop of his experience of Italy, gained through his travels there in the 1370s, his interaction with Italians in London, and his reading of the other two great Italian medieval poets, Boccaccio and Dante. The book also considers Chaucer's engagement with early Italian humanism and the nature of translation in the fourteenth century, including a preliminary examination of adaptations of Chaucer's pronouncements upon translation and literary production. Chaucer's adaptations of Petrarch's Latin tale of Griselda and the sonnet "S'amor non è", as the Clerk's Tale and the "Canticus Troili" from Troilus and Criseyde respectively, illustrate his various translative strategies. Furthermore, Chaucer's references to Petrarch in his prologue to the Clerk's Tale and in the Monk's Tale provide a means of gauging the intellectual relationship between two of the most important poets of the time. WILLIAM T. ROSSITER is Senior Lecturer in Medieval and Early Modern Literature, University of East Anglia.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-796-7
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Note on Texts and Translations
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. Introduction: Forms of Translatio
    (pp. 1-34)

    The purpose of this study is to address an absence at the heart of critical responses to Chaucer’s reception of thetre corone. Whilst there has been a series of book-length studies of Chaucer’s relationships with Boccaccio and Dante, there is a notable lacuna in relation to his reading and understanding of Petrarch and Petrarchism.¹ This, however, is not to say that there have not been important and influential essays, articles and studies within studies – the invaluable commentaries of E. H. Wilkins, Patricia Thomson, Piero Boitani, David Wallace and Warren Ginsberg, for example – but a sustained focus has yet to...

  7. 1 Father of English Poetry, Father of Humanism: When Chaucer ‘met’ Petrarch
    (pp. 35-68)

    At some point between 1370 and his death in 1374, Petrarch composed hisEpistle to Posterity. The incomplete letter details his life, his nature and his achievements, and provides a valuable account of his sense of dislocation:

    [Posteritati.] Fuerit tibi forsan de me aliquid auditum; quanquam et hoc dubium sit: an exiguum et obscurum longe nomen seu locorum seu temporum perventurum sit. […] Incubui unice, inter multa, ad notitiam vetustatis, quoniam michi semper etas ista displicuit; ut, nisi me amor carorum in diversum traheret, qualibet etate natus esse semper optaverim, et hanc oblivisci, nisus animo me aliis semper inserere. […]...

  8. 2 ‘The double sorwe of Troilus to tellen’: Petrarchan Inversions in Chaucer’s Filostrato
    (pp. 69-108)

    In a letter to his friend Joshua Reynolds dated 21 September 1819, John Keats revealed that he had ceased work upon his would-be epic poem Hyperion on the basis that there ‘were too many Miltonic inversions in it’.¹ By discontinuing his poem, Keats illustrated the pernicious nature of what Harold Bloom terms ‘the anxiety of influence’. Bloom explains his theory of poetic production as follows:

    Poetic Influence – when it involves two strong, authentic poets, – always proceeds by a misreading of the prior poet, an act of creative correction that is actually and necessarily a misinterpretation.²

    Yet Bloom clearly demarcates the...

  9. 3 ‘But if that I consente’: The First English Sonnet
    (pp. 109-131)

    As the ‘Clerk of Oxenford […] preved by his wordes’ (IV. 1, 28) in the prologue to his tale, ‘Fraunceys Petrak, the lauriat poete’, although ‘deed and nayled in his cheste’ (IV. 29–31), was undergoing the process of immortalization by the time that Chaucer wrote both theCanticus Troiliand theClerk’s Tale.¹ What remains of Petrarch is ‘his rhethorike sweete [that] | Enlumyned al Ytaille of poetrie’ (IV. 32–3). The Italian laureate would subsequently be “nailed in his chest” by those sonnets which, together, constitute theRerum vulgarium fragmenta, boxed in by those vernacular lyrics which he...

  10. 4 ‘Mutata veste’: Griselda between Boccaccio and Petrarch
    (pp. 132-160)

    In his response to a letter from Boccaccio containing a plea to abandon his studies on account of his age and his already considerable fame, Petrarch gives the first hint as to his translation of the final tale of his friend’sDecameron:

    Nulla calamo agilior est sarcina, nulla iucundior; voluptates alie fugiunt et mulcendo ledunt; calamus et in manus sumptus mulcet, et depositus delectat, ac prodest non domino suo tantum sed aliis multis sepe etiam absentibus, nonnunquam et posteris post annorum milia. […] Hoc mihiigitur fixum est; quamque sim procul ab inertibus consiliis, sequens ad te epystola erit indicio.


  11. 5 ‘Of hire array what sholde I make a tale?’: Griselda between Petrarch and Chaucer
    (pp. 161-190)

    The tale of Patient Griselda inspirestranslatioby virtue of the fact that the ideal it ostensibly represents stands in complete opposition to contemporary sensibilities. Her alterity provokes critical revision, perhaps even misprision. Griselda is translated both within her tale, from peasant to noblewoman, and outside of it, from one linguistic and hermeneutic modality to another. Yet misprision has always accompanied Griselda, and, as theClerk’s Talemakes clear, this account of a wife’s remarkable obedience and faithfulness (‘Insignis obedientia et fides uxoria’,Sen. XVII. 3. 49–50) was no less defamiliarizing to its fourteenth-century audience than it is to...

  12. Conclusion: ‘translacions and enditynges’
    (pp. 191-202)

    In theLife of Our Lady, Lydgate not only echoes Chaucer’s praise of Petrarch but also notes the importance of translation to the literary polysystem:

    And eke my maister Chaucer is ygrave

    The noble Rhetor, poete of Brytayne

    That worthy was the laurer for to have

    Of poetrye, and the palme atteyne

    That made firste, to distille and rayne

    The golde dewe, dropes, of speche and eloquence

    Into our tunge, thurgh his excellence (II. 1628– 34)¹

    That Lydgate had the Clerk’s prologue in mind may be surmised from the fact that, just a couple of lines earlier, he had referred...

  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 203-226)
  14. Index
    (pp. 227-236)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 237-239)