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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
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
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Temporal dissonance and narrative voice
Caitlin Flynn

off music, language became self-sufficient as the vehicle of verse, and memory assumed the function of aesthetic distance which had been earlier accorded to music. 19 Douglas’s attention to harmony and cosmology reflects a nuanced and humanist-complected presentation of music not commonly found in other medieval poems, especially dream visions. The extreme to which he pushes this temporal and affective antinomy is deeply grotesque. More generally, Douglas’s engagement with sound and

in The narrative grotesque in medieval Scottish poetry
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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
Open Access (free)
Daniel C. Remein and Erica Weaver

's ‘static, heroic masculinity’. All told, this volume thus contends that the intimacies in Beowulf – textual, narrative, characterological, formal, linguistic, cultural, and so forth – escape the intimate, charged confines of an early medieval poem that will probably remain – perhaps paradoxically – anonymous and undated. In addition to addressing ongoing, crucial questions about the interpretation or function of the poem, then, these chapters ultimately give us a Beowulf whose relationship status will always display ‘it's complicated’, but which

in Dating Beowulf
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Gillian Rudd

makes much nature writing so resilient to critical interpretation. Oerlemans makes his argument with regard to the writing of the Romantics (prose, shorter poems and sections within longer narrative texts) but the questions of focus and interpretation he raises are thrown into greater relief when, as with the medieval poems under discussion here, we are dealing with free-standing lyrics that are often anonymous, frequently without certain date and usually without a known precise reason for their composition. In this they are most like found objects: they do not need

in Greenery
Peter Barry

italics again] Here, the destined encounter with wilderness as the locale of revelation is rather like that in the medieval poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Having encountered the Green Knight in the crowded festive hall at Christmas time, Gawain must go out into the wilderness a year later in search of the man of the man he beheaded (who immediately picked up his head and left the hall), and there receive the return blow. Like Gawain, but in hired car, rather than on horseback, Hallett sets out for the foothills: The foothills of Cadair Idris are beautiful beyond

in Extending ecocriticism
Willem de Blécourt

small, possibly mutually related group of stories, 19 and she obliterated the horse. In her opinion the brothers guarding the apple tree were not important either, since they were absent in the medieval poem (and, like the illness, belonged to another story type anyway). She divulged a preference for northern European texts: the Russian version was ‘excellent’, the Scottish ‘good’, whereas variants in

in Tales of magic, tales in print
Tara Stubbs

in her poem ‘Lament for the Makers, 1964’ (itself a spin on William Dunbar’s late medieval poem ‘Lament for the Makaris’). Yeats’s work ‘shadows’ the poem as a constant presence, but this shadowing extends to a further allusion to Auden’s elegy for Yeats, ‘In Memory of W. B. Yeats’, while Yeats’s literal death is mourned in the poem as a catalyst for further mourning for the deaths of the other poets commemorated within it. Deutsch’s fascination with Irish art and culture, and her lifelong interest in the Yeats family, led her to regard Yeats as an inheritor of an

in American literature and Irish culture, 1910–55