Helen Barr
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Chaucer’s hands
in Transporting Chaucer
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Chapter 3 explores how hands in the written text of The Canterbury Tales reproduce the conflicted role of hands in medieval thought. When those hands come to be illustrated, they disrupt linear literary narrative and principles of manuscript ordination. Readers who come to illustrated copies of The Canterbury Tales are brought face to face with bodies that may tell anticipated memories of textual hands they have encountered elsewhere. Their recall and their expectation replays text and image back and forth across the visual and verbal texts of the Canterbury Tales and other places besides. The temporal movement of Chaucer’s ‘own’ hands is especially complex. Through discussion of gesture, manicules, and codicology, the chapter dismantles Chaucer’s iconic left hand from its customary placement.

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