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Chaucer's Major Tales by Michael Hoy
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Chaucer's Major Tales (1969)

by Michael Hoy

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  1. 00
    Medieval romance: themes and approaches (English literature) by John E. Stevens (waltzmn)
    waltzmn: Different Stevens, similar subject. Hoy and Stevens devote much of their attention to Chaucer's romances, notably the Franklin's Tale. And John Stevens gives an insight into romances -- including the Franklin's Tale -- far deeper than most other books.
  2. 00
    The Riverside Chaucer by Geoffrey Chaucer (waltzmn)
    waltzmn: Larry D. Benson's edition of Chaucer's works based on the previous editions of Robinson, remains the standard one-volume edition, with glosses, background notes, glossary, and textual notes. Any commentary requires a text to refer to, and the Riverside Chaucer is the text.… (more)
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All right, what have you done with the Wife of Bath?

This is an interesting concept: Taking the more "important" of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales and trying to look at them in depth. But the implementation is -- odd. The omission of The Wife of Bath's Tale is an obvious example.

Obvious in more ways than one. The authors seem rather obsessed with certain ideas, such as the idea of "Courtly Love" that was so popular in French romances -- French romances, note, not English; C. S. Lewis was convinced that Courtly Love was everywhere in Chaucer, but many others are not. Another of the important subjects of the book is the "marriage group" of tales -- another hypothetical idea, derived from G. L. Kittredge. But the Wife of Bath's Tale opens the "marriage group," and yet her tale is not studied even though it is the key to the whole idea.

Then, too, a problem with studying the individual tales rather than the Tales is that it loses the effects created by Chaucer's links. Sometimes these are studied, but sometimes they aren't. The Tales were never completed, but it was closer to complete than you would know from Hoy and Stevens.

This is not to be entirely critical. There are a lot of good insights in this book. What it says is usually good. It's just that, by putting most of its attention on a few tales, the book leaves out a great deal that seems to me very important. ( )
  waltzmn | Nov 7, 2013 |
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OUR PARENTS AND MARY
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The criticism of medieval literature has undergone important changes in recent years.
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Pilgrim setting off in spring and summer to the shrine of Thomas à Becket at Canterbury would have been a familiar sight to Chaucer as he looked out across the South London countryside from the Aldgate house which he rented from 1374 to 1386.
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