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Sources and Analogues of the Canterbury Tales: vol. II

Sources and Analogues of the Canterbury Tales: vol. II

MARY HAMEL Associate General Editor
Series: Chaucer Studies
Copyright Date: 2005
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 840
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  • Book Info
    Sources and Analogues of the Canterbury Tales: vol. II
    Book Description:

    The publication of this volume completes the new edition of the sources and major analogues of all the Canterbury Tales prepared by members of the New Chaucer Society. This collection, the first to appear in over half a century, features such additions as a fresh interpretation of Chaucer's sources for the frame of the work, chapters on the sources of the General Prologue and Retractions, and modern English translations of all foreign language texts, with glosses for the Middle English. Chapters on the individual tales contain an updated survey of the present state of scholarship on their source materials. Several sources and analogues discovered during the past fifty years are found here together for the first time, and some other familiar sources are re-edited from manuscripts closer to Chaucer's copies. Besides the General Prologue and the Retractions, this volume includes chapters on the Miller, Summoner, Merchant, Physician, Shipman, Prioress, Sir Thopas, Canon's Yeoman, Manciple, the Knight and the prologues and tales of the Man of Law and Wife of Bath. Contributors: PETER BEIDLER, KENNETH A. BLEETH, LAUREL BROUGHTON, JOANNE CHARBONNEAU, WILLIAM E. COLEMAN, CAROLYN P. COLLETTE, VINCENT DI MARCO, PETER FIELD, TRAUGOTT LAWLER, ANITA OBERMEIER, ROBERT RAYMO, CHRISTINE RICHARDSON-HEY, JOHN SCATTERGOOD, NIGEL S. THOMPSON, EDWARD WHEATLEY, JOHN WITHRINGTON.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-428-7
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Derek Brewer

    This volume has its origin some thirty or more years ago, when one of the objects of setting up D. S. Brewer Ltd was to publish an updated version of the much-valuedSources and Analogues to theCanterbury Tales, edited by Bryan and Dempster, which was by then in need of revision, expansion, and some translation. Since then the value of studying sources and analogues in relation to a text – quite beyond the simple identification of a real or possible source – has been ever more appreciated, while at the same time the bulk of the material available has greatly increased....

  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-xi)
  5. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xii-xvi)
  6. The General Prologue
    (pp. 1-86)

    Chaucer was familiar with many of the framed story-collections circulating in the medieval west and he absorbed and occasionally followed their innovations, but Boccaccio’sDecameronwas the only one to exert a decisive influence upon him in the composition ofThe Canterbury Tales.How thoroughly he knew it, when and where he became acquainted with it, and in what form are still matters of conjecture. Nevertheless, his debt to theDecameronfor the overarching structure and plan of the Tales as well as for crucial aspects of narrative technique and content is well established and represents the broad consensus of...

  7. The Knight’s Tale
    (pp. 87-248)

    Several books occupied Chaucer’s desk while he was composingThe Knight’s Tale: Boccaccio’sTeseida,¹ Statius’sThebaid, and Boethius’s De consolatione philosophiae (in Latin and in Chaucer’s own translation, theBoece). In Chaucer’s mind’s eye, if not also on his desk, were Virgil’s Aeneid , Ovid’sMetamorphoses, the Vulgate Bible, Dante’sCommedia, and perhaps theRoman de la Roseand theRoman de Thèbes.

    The most important book on that very crowded desk was theTeseida. Boccaccio composed theTeseidac. 1340 in response to Dante’s observation in theDe vulgari eloquentiathat a vernacular work on the theme of arms...

  8. The Miller’s Tale
    (pp. 249-276)

    Many medieval stories have features in common with Chaucer’sMiller’s Taleabout two young suitors to the young wife of a rich old carpenter. All but one of these stories, however, are either too late or too distant in narrative structure fromThe Miller’s Taleto have influenced it. That one is the anonymous fourteenth-century Middle Dutch tale known asHeile van Beersele.² While we cannot be sure that this one was Chaucer’s actual source – that is, that he actually had this precise version of the story in his hands before he wrote the tale of John, Alisoun, Nicholas, and...

  9. The Man of Law’s Prologue and Tale
    (pp. 277-350)

    The Man of Law’s contribution to the storytelling contest inThe Canterbury Talesconsists of three parts commonly referred to as theIntroduction,PrologueandTale.Their relationships to each other and to theTalesas a whole are in many respects uncertain, resulting in a number of still unsolved problems, including the Man of Law’s puzzling announcement that he will “speke in prose,” (II, 96) just before giving his brief homily on poverty (II, 99–121) and telling his tale in verse.¹ The relationship between hisPrologueandTalehas always been problematic. Many scholars have found little or...

  10. The Wife of Bath’s Prologue
    (pp. 351-404)

    The Wife of Bath’s Prologueis surely among the most original and vital of Chaucer’s poems, and yet it is also the one most deeply involved in literary tradition. That tradition, even at its most serious (as with Jerome), was always allied with satire, and it certainly had its comic manifestations, most notably in theRoman de la Rose. But nothing in the tradition approaches the rich comedy of the Wife of Bath. Part of that comedy lies in the witty use Chaucer made of texts, and we present here both passages he surely used (from Jerome, Theophrastus, Walter Map,...

  11. The Wife of Bath’s Tale
    (pp. 405-448)

    The Wife of Bath’s Talemakes use of two folklore motifs: in one a “Loathly Lady” is transformed into a beautiful woman, while the other involves answering the question “What is it that women most desire?”¹ G. H. Maynadier’s study remains the most comprehensive discussion of the origins of the Loathly Lady motif in the context of Chaucer’s tale, and it was he who first proposed that the theme of sovereignty found in early Irish analogues made its way into British folklore, although whether by a Scandinavian or Welsh route, he was not sure.² Sigmund Eisner reinforced the theory of...

  12. The Summoner’s Prologue and Tale
    (pp. 449-478)

    TheProloguetoThe Summoner’s Talebegins another round in the quarrel between the Summoner and the Friar, whose own tale about a summoner carried off to hell has just very effectively discredited not only this particular Canterbury summoner, but summoners in general. In the preamble to his tale, the Summoner is quick to draw an association between the devil and friars, suggesting thereby their rightful place in hell. His anecdote about a friar who is ravished to hell in a vision is blatantly provocative. Seeing no other friars there, the friar asks the angel who is acting as his...

  13. The Merchant’s Tale
    (pp. 479-534)

    The Merchant’s Taleis a well-known type in medieval narrative,¹ but an exact source is difficult to pinpoint. Nineteenth-century research uncovered several ancient Oriental tales illustrating the wiles of women that show some similarity,² but the husband is sighted and the wife’s trickery performed on the ground with the husband in the tree (as inDecameronVII, 9). Transmission of such tales, many in framed collections typified by theThousand and One Nights, would have occurred in contact with the Muslim world in and around the Mediterranean from Mozarabic Spain to the Levant. Later Latin versions suggest that the story...

  14. The Physician’s Tale
    (pp. 535-564)

    The story of the maiden Virginia, her father Virginius, and the corrupt judge Appius that forms the basis ofThe Physician’s Talebegan life as a piece of Roman historiography – perhaps invented to illustrate the abuse of power by the decemviri – and found its definitive form in Book 3 of Livy’s history of Rome.¹ The Physician names Livy as the story’s author in the opening line of his tale. As commentators long have recognized, however, this attribution merely translates a line – “Si con dit Titus Livius”– from theRoman de la Rose, and thus signals Chaucer’s dependence on the condensed...

  15. The Shipman’s Tale
    (pp. 565-582)

    The Shipman’s Taleis a fabliau, a short comic story of financial and sexual deception firmly located in a bourgeois setting. Neither the prosperous merchant of St Denis, nor his attractive spendthrift wife are given names, and since the unscrupulous and lecherous monk is called Daun John, which was practically a generic name for a cleric, it has seemed to many scholars that Chaucer was trying to write something archetypal in the fabliau genre.¹ Yet, paradoxically, the physical world of the tale – the layout of the merchant’s house and garden at St Denis, the details of his business trips to...

  16. The Prioress’s Prologue and Tale
    (pp. 583-648)

    Chaucer’s Prioress tells a miracle of the Virgin, one of the most popular forms of narrative in the Middle Ages. These tales tend to be simple, focused exempla, designed to reinforce specific aspects of Marian devotion. In creatingThe Prioress’s TaleChaucer has drawn on a number of cultural and literary influences to produce a complex and multi-layered narrative that transcends its genre.¹ Because of these many layers,The Prioress’s PrologueandTalepresent numerous challenges for those wishing to pursue its sources and analogues. Each makes direct and indirect reference to the Sarum Missal, Sarum Breviary, and Primer, as...

  17. Sir Thopas
    (pp. 649-714)

    Chaucer’s tale ofSir Thopas, the most imitative and derivative of all theCanterbury Tales, has no known single source or analogue, but instead borrows extensively from romances and ballads with echoes from these popular works in virtually every line. Unlike most of the other tales in the Canterbury collection,Sir Thopasis not really a tale at all, but is instead a hodgepodge of common rhetorical devices and popular plot motifs. Filled with conventional diction, paralyzingly bad meter and stereotypical catalogues, the poem must be seen as a parody or satire – a position most scholars have maintained, following the...

  18. The Canon’s Yeoman’s Tale
    (pp. 715-748)

    The Canon’s Yeoman’s Taleis extraordinary amongThe Canterbury Talesin having neither any known major sources nor analogues that suggest the early existence of a primary source.¹ This anomaly has encouraged various suppositions about the autobiographical nature of the tale, resulting in a body of mid-twentieth-century criticism focusing on Chaucer’s putative suspicion of alchemy or the equally factitious hypothesis that Chaucer was himself the dupe of an alchemical trickster; this latter is an ancient Chaucerian tradition given authority by Tyrwhitt, who had written that the poet’s “sudden resentment had determined Chaucer to interrupt the regular course of his work,...

  19. The Manciple’s Tale
    (pp. 749-774)

    James A. Work asserted in 1941 thatThe Manciple’s Talehad no one source but was cobbled together from Chaucer’s memories of a common story and related materials;¹ no scholar since then has convincingly undermined that assertion. The story of Phoebus, his unfaithful wife, and a tattling bird that the god changes from white to black circulated in a number of different texts, one of which was a work to which Chaucer alludes frequently in his poetry, Ovid’sMetamorphoses. However, the Latin story differs in several significant details from Chaucer’s. Ovid gives Phebus’s wife’s name as Coronis, which Chaucer omits;...

  20. Chaucer’s Retraction
    (pp. 775-808)

    No direct sources for Chaucer’sRetractionhave been identified, and my purpose here is not to identify any particular source but to present analogues to the literarytopoicontained in it. Although no chapter on theRetractionappeared in Bryan and Dempster (1941), as early as 1913, John Tatlock established “a well-marked though slim literary tradition” for it.¹ Tatlock found evidence of Chaucer’s indebtedness to this tradition by focusing on works featuring the Latin termretractatioin their titles, such as Augustine’sRetractationes, Bede’sRetractatio, and Gerald of Wales’Retractationes.

    In 1971, Olive Sayce expanded on Tatlock’s argument by examining...

  21. Contributors and Editors
    (pp. 809-810)
  22. General Index
    (pp. 811-818)
  23. Index of Manuscripts
    (pp. 819-820)
  24. Corrigenda to Volume I
    (pp. 821-824)
  25. Back Matter
    (pp. 825-825)