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Chaucer in Context

Morgan, Gerald (ed.)

Chaucer in Context

A Golden Age of English Poetry

Year of Publication: 2012

Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Wien, 2012. XII, 307 pp.
ISBN 978-3-0343-0765-9 pb.  (Softcover)

Weight: 0.440 kg, 0.970 lbs

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Book synopsis

The study of the work of Geoffrey Chaucer – still regarded as a literary genius more than 600 years after his death – centres on the problems of detailed readings of his poetry (including in some cases the textual authority for these readings) and the historical context that gives them meaning. In some ways, the modern understanding of the shaping historical context was undermined in the second half of the twentieth century by the dogmatism of Robertsonian Augustinianism, as a basis for the interpretation of medieval literature in general and of Chaucer’s poetry in particular, and at the same time by the reactions of determined opposition provoked by this approach. Undeniably, medieval views often fail to coincide with modern ones and they are frequently uncomfortable for modern readers. Nevertheless, Chaucer’s brilliance as an observer of the human scene coexists with and irradiates these unfamiliar medieval ideas. The essays in this volume explore in detail the historical context of Chaucer’s poetry, in which orthodox Catholic ideas rather than revolutionary Wycliffite ones occupy the central position. At the same time, they offer detailed readings of his poetry and that of his famous contemporaries in an attempt to do justice to the independent and original work of these poetic masters, writing in the great royal households of England in the period 1360-1400.


Contents: Simon Horobin: Review – Anne J. Duggan: ‘The Hooly Blisful Martir for to Seke’ – Alan J. Fletcher: Piers Plowman and the Benedictines – Caroline E. Jones: A Lesson in Patience – Gavin Hughes: Fourteenth-Century Weaponry, Armour and Warfare in Chaucer and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight – David Scott-Macnab: Sir Thopas and his Lancegay – William Marx: An Absent King: Perceptions of the Politics of Power in the Reign of Richard II and the Middle English Prose Brut – Gerald Morgan: Chaucer’s Knight’s Tale: The Book of the Duke – Barry Windeatt: Plea and Petition in Chaucer – Mary Carr: The Fall of Lucifer and the Sin of Pride in Piers Plowman – A.V.C. Schmidt: The Humanity of Pearl – Brendan O’Connell: The Poetics of Fraud: Jean de Meun, Dante and Chaucer – Nicolas Jacobs: Criseyde’s Last Word.

About the author(s)/editor(s)

Gerald Morgan was formerly a Senior Lecturer and Fellow at Trinity College Dublin. His publications include The Tragic Argument of Troilus and Criseyde (2005) and The Shaping of English Poetry: Essays on ‘Sir Gawain and the Green Knight’, Langland, Chaucer and Spenser (Peter Lang, 2010).