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.
, 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 medievalpoems 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
way, with you. The chapter’s title modernizes, as a kind of choreography of stillness, a term the medievalpoem 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
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 medievalpoem 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
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-medievalpoem 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
-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. Medievalpoems and letters and the plays of Shakespeare and
Marlowe accounted for The Wanderer
high Renaissance. Sources and analogues like the
Variorum ’s need hardly be abandoned, but they cannot exclude a verbal
parallel in English in a medievalpoem 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
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 medievalpoem, Pearl . 59 Boorman’s evocation of this medieval dream-vision also reminds
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
Language, literacy and aspects of identity in early modern Wales
The sheer quantity of these late medievalpoems, 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
'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 medievalpoem 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