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Society, allegory and gender
Author: S. H. Rigby

This book on Geoffrey Chaucer explores the relationship between Chaucer's poetry and the change and conflict characteristic of his day and the sorts of literary and non-literary conventions that were at his disposal for making sense of the society around him. Critics who consider the social meaning of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales fall into two main schools: those who present his social thought as an expression of the dominant spirit or ideology of his day and those who see Chaucer as possessing a more heterodox voice. Many of the present generation of Chaucer critics have been trained either as 'Robertsonians' or as 'Donaldsonians'. For D. W. Robertson, even those medieval poems which do not explicitly address religious issues were frequently intended to promote the Augustinian doctrine of charity beneath a pleasing surface; for E. Talbot Donaldson, there are 'no such poems in Middle English'. The book sets out the basics of the Augustinian doctrine of charity and of medieval allegorical theory and examines 'patristic' interpretations of Chaucer's work, particularly of the 'Nun's Priest Tale'. It looks at the humanist alternative to the patristic method and assesses the strengths and weaknesses of the patristic approach. The book also outlines some of the major medieval discourses about sexual difference which inform Chaucer's depiction of women, in particular, the tendency of medieval writers to polarise their views of women, condemning them to the pit or elevating them to the pedestal.

S. H. Rigby

, Chaucer takes our sinfulness for granted and is more interested in ‘the marvellous variety of life in a world which, however sinful, is the only world we’ve got’. For Robertson, even those medieval poems which do not explicitly address religious issues were frequently intended to promote the Augustinian doctrine of charity beneath a pleasing surface; for Donaldson, there are ‘no such poems in Middle

in Chaucer in context
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Cary Howie

way, with you. The chapter’s title modernizes, as a kind of choreography of stillness, a term the medieval poem uses to express the limits of arithmetic when coping with who we are, alone, together. Chapters 7 and 8 , “Lyric medievalism” and “Lyric theology,” are two sides of the same coin, or, perhaps, two coins of the same side, as they each read closely a handful of modern lyric poems devoted, in various ways, to medieval objects and experiences. “Lyric medievalism” shows how B. H. Fairchild, Lynda Hull and Rynn Williams evoke the Middle Ages as a way of

in Transfiguring medievalism
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Caledonian fatality in Thomas Percy’s Reliques
Frank Ferguson and Danni Glover

of Chevy Chase’, chosen as the first ballad in the collection, might have presented problems because of the events it commemorated. It could be perceived as a medieval poem about a border skirmish between English and Scottish factions, which occurred because the then Lord Percy arbitrarily decided to make an illegal incursion into Scotland to hunt deer (1; 1, I, i). However, the ballad depicts this action as a holy and righteous exercise of Percy’s power as an English nobleman: The Persé owt of Northombarlande

in Suicide and the Gothic
Tim William Machan

medieval Scandinavians. In place of regnal genealogies and migration myths, he uses imagery that stresses raw and starkly drawn emotional power of a kind that recalls Frithjof’s saga , a wildly popular pseudo-medieval poem of the early nineteenth century that was translated many times, including by the Robert Latham who wrote so much about Norway. 12 ‘I am the God Thor’, begins one of Longfellow’s poems: I am the War God, I am the Thunderer Here in my Northland, My fastness and fortress, Reign I forever! Here amid icebergs Rule I the nations

in Northern memories and the English Middle Ages
Andrew Higson

-budget British version Robin Hood (1990); the American blockbuster Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991), starring Kevin Costner; and Mel Brooks’s spoof Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993). A further eighteen films were adapted from an assortment of other literary sources, from the medieval to the postmodern. Medieval poems and letters and the plays of Shakespeare and Marlowe accounted for The Wanderer

in Medieval film
Reading historically and intertextually
Judith Anderson

high Renaissance. Sources and analogues like the Variorum ’s need hardly be abandoned, but they cannot exclude a verbal parallel in English in a medieval poem known to be familiar to Spenser. This time, the evidence is incontrovertible. The seventy-ninth sonnet devalues the lady’s ‘fayre’ (1) appearance and ‘glorious hew’ (6), on both of which the lady prides herself. The speaker supersedes these outer qualities with what alone ‘is permanent and free / from frayle corruption, that doth flesh ensew’ (7–8). But unlike

in Rereading Chaucer and Spenser
Jo George

American hardboiled crime film with the influence of European art cinema stalwarts such as Alain Resnais. At the same time, both films are about quests for elusive grails. Similarly, the protagonists of Point Blank and Leo the Last (1970), Boorman’s most overtly European film, are variations on the figure of the wounded Fisher King. Boorman has even claimed that aspects of Beyond Rangoon (1995), his Hollywood thriller about the political situation in Burma, were based on the medieval poem, Pearl . 59 Boorman’s evocation of this medieval dream-vision also reminds

in British art cinema
The abjection of the Middle Ages
Thomas A. Prendergast and Stephanie Trigg

discovery and rather forcefully suggests that scholars might do well to attend to the manuscript context of medieval poems before making assertions about their literary, historical, religious or even generic qualities. 14 The story is irresistible both because it seems to demonstrate the delightful horror of academic error (as long as it doesn’t happen to us) and demonstrates how academic discipline

in Affective medievalism
Swooning in late medieval literature
Naomi Booth

There has been scattered scholarship on the relationship between Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet and his reading of Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde : see Ann Thompson, who suggests that ‘the medieval poem was very much in [Shakespeare's] mind if not actually in front of his eyes when he was working on Romeo and Juliet ’ (‘ Troilus and Criseyde and Romeo and Juliet ’, The Yearbook of English Studies 6 (1976), 26–37 at 26). Prior to this M.C. Bradbrook suggested: ‘That the author of Romeo and Juliet had learned from the author of Troilus and Criseyde would

in Swoon