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Society, allegory and gender

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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Daniel C. Remein

to detect and explore the non-representational capacities and orientations of medieval poems without immediately reinscribing them within a representational teleology, we are able to perceive them at work in an energetic world. In understanding medieval poems as active in this way, we also have that much more of a chance of doing what I believe Brodeur wanted to do for Beowulf in constructing a fragile framework for the study and appreciation of its aesthetics at mid-century: that is, to translate the poem—in the sense of allowing it to recrystallize—in the

in The heat of Beowulf
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Translative comparative poetics
Daniel C. Remein

within its own post-war intellectual geologies and literary histories—as a comparative horizon for the Old English poem will suggest the usefulness of cultivating a greater critical capacity to detect, comprehend, and explore the non-representational capacities and orientations of medieval poems without immediately re-inscribing them within a representational teleology. As a return to aesthetics that cannot be reduced to formalism, a naive account of a Kantian exhibition of aesthetic ideas, or a transhistorical sensualism, this effort will remain tied to language

in The heat of Beowulf
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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
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
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
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
Shakespeare’s poison gardens
Lisa Hopkins

numerous late-medieval poems and sermons on the subject of the opposition between secular and spiritual love. 8 Before proceeding to the discussion of the last plays to which the bulk of this chapter will be devoted, I want to pause briefly to consider some of the ramifications of the amount and type

in Poison on the early modern English stage
Louise D’Arcens

in the darkest imaginable fashion, reminding of a time dominated by war and epidemics … the time of torture, gallows, and François Villon’s poetry’. 35 Other late medieval poems singled out by the band reinforce this bleak vision of the Middle Ages. Folkfuck Folie bases one song on the devil’s speech about the superiority of the

in Medieval literary voices