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Comedy in Chaucer and Boccaccio

Comedy in Chaucer and Boccaccio

Series: Chaucer Studies
Volume: 40
Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 166
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  • Book Info
    Comedy in Chaucer and Boccaccio
    Book Description:

    Although many of Chaucer's sources have been exhaustively studied, relatively little work has been done on the influence of his contemporary Boccaccio, a gap which this book aims to fill. It examines the relationship of the comictales, the so-called fabli

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-703-5
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Preface and Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. 1 Introductory Matters
    (pp. 1-19)

    The question may seem an odd one, but it is, in fact, what started me on the road to finding the subject of this book. Scholars of medieval and early modern English literature are used to considering English interest in Italian letters – if not Chaucer’s use of Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio, then Elizabethan interest in Italian humanism and the Italian sonnet. It is a commonplace that from the point of view of the continent, England in the late Middle Ages was thought to be relatively backward; Boccaccio’s Decameron 2, 3 compares it to Barbary, the north African coast. When...

  5. 2 The Comic Inheritance of Boccaccio and Chaucer
    (pp. 20-37)

    That we still read the comic tales of Boccaccio’s Decameron and Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and have lost or forgotten those of many other medieval writers is partly an accident of history but mostly a testament to the art of the two fourteenth-century authors, one, the foremost spokesman of humanism that appeared in late medieval – or, as Italian scholars prefer, early Renaissance – Italy and the other, a poet who gave his name to a golden period in early English literature, the Age of Chaucer. Boccaccio’s comic novellas and Chaucer’s fabliaux recreate and make us laugh at the sights, sounds,...

  6. 3 Parallel Comic Tales in the Decameron and the Canterbury Tales
    (pp. 38-71)

    While the indebtedness of Chaucer’s versified comic tales to thirteenth-century French fabliaux has been closely studied by scholars, their relationship to the prose tales of Boccaccio’s Decameron has been studied less and with greater reservation.¹ The relationship between the comic tales of Chaucer and Boccaccio deserves more attention, at least as much as that given to the English poet’s tales and the French fabliaux. Many of the French antecedents are judged to be “lost”; whereas, Boccaccio’s tales are there for the reading and it is increasingly clear that Chaucer knew them. Even when the relationships between the English and Italian...

  7. 4 Antifraternal Satire in Boccaccio and Chaucer
    (pp. 72-100)

    Satiric representation of friars is a particular form of anticlericalism found in both Boccaccio’s Decameron and Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. Friars play principal roles in eight tales of the Decameron (Decameron 1, 1; 1, 6; 3, 3; 3, 4; 3, 7; 4, 2; 7, 1; 7, 3). Chaucer’s portrait of the corrupt Friar Hubert is the longest of all the pilgrim descriptions in the General Prologue. Moreover, Friar John of the Summoner’s Tale as well as Friar Hubert’s own tale (against which the Summoner retaliates with his about a friar) sustain the satirical antifraternal tone of Friar Hubert’s portrait. Preoccupation with...

  8. 5 Adding Comedy: Boccaccio’s Filostrato and Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde
    (pp. 101-128)

    Chaucer’s originality in using Boccaccio’s Filostrato as his principal source for Troilus and Criseyde consists primarily in his introduction of comedy into the Italian’s romance of unhappy love. The transformation of Pandaro, the go-between, into Pandarus, scheming architect of the love affair of Troilus and Criseyde, creates a fabliau thread in the English version that effects character dynamics between Pandarus and each of the lovers, moving them often in the direction of comedy. The comic aspect of the Troilus is not limited to fabliau. It includes the divine comedy of the hero’s translation to the celestial eighth sphere, another innovation...

  9. Conclusion
    (pp. 129-134)

    The prayerful “Go litel bok, go, litel myn tragedye” at the end of Troilus and Criseyde looks forward hopefully “ther God thi makere yet, er that he dye,/ So sende might to make in som comedye.” No prayer could have been more fully answered than in the fabliaux of the Canterbury Tales. In borrowing Boccaccio’s popular romance, Chaucer had much already worked out for him but his recreation of Pandaro as Pandarus set in motion the poet’s natural comic spirit which reached its heights in the fabliaux of Chaucer’s second masterpiece. The sad teller of Boccaccio’s story transforms himself into...

  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 135-146)
  11. Index
    (pp. 147-152)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 153-155)