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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
Richard Suggett and Eryn White

poet his reward but at the same time rebuked the bard for an unsatisfactory composition and consigned the text to the hall fire, saying, ‘By my honestie I swere yf there bee no copie of this extante, none shall there ever bee.’ 9 56 Language, literacy and aspects of identity in early modern Wales The sheer quantity of these late medieval poems, principally praise poems that enhanced the status of patrons by emphasizing their gentility, leadership and generosity, should be noted. Some thousands exist in manuscript and many are of ‘local’ rather than ‘national

in The spoken word
Jan Broadway

internal inconsistencies in the work are catalogued, it seems obvious that it is a fourteenth-century forgery, but respect for medieval texts and an appreciation of the problems of scribal copies made early antiquaries less critical than later generations of historians. As befitted an author whose first published work was an edition of Geoffrey Chaucer, Stow’s Survey of London reflected his interest in poetry, and he drew on several medieval poems for descriptions of the medieval city. Among the sources he had acquired was part of the collection of John Shirley, who in the

in ‘No historie so meete’