Chaucer’s ‘beast group’ and ‘Mother Hubberds Tale’
in Rereading Chaucer and Spenser
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This chapter argues that the influence of Chaucer on ‘Mother Hubberds Tale’ should be reconsidered in light of what can be identified as a ‘beast group’ in early modern editions of the Canterbury Tales. Despite the fact that it was an editorial rather than an authorial invention, this beast group (which includes the apocryphal Plowman’s Tale as well as the authentic tales of the Nun’s Priest and the Manciple) offers a surprisingly coherent exploration of the potential uses of beast literature and animal fable. This study argues that Spenser drew extensively on all three of the tales in the beast group, and that his engagement with the group as a whole helped shape his beast fable as both an anti-clerical satire and as a reimagining of medieval estates satire. Moreover, among the talking birds of the Chaucerian beast group, Spenser identified a number of models for the role of the poet; he responds to these models by advancing the fox and the ape as figures of the poet against which he defines his own poetic role.

Rereading Chaucer and Spenser

Dan Geffrey with the New Poete


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