The facts and fictions that continue to shape our understanding of Chaucer and his place in literary tradition Is Chaucer the father of English literature? The first English poet? Was he a feminist? A political opportunist? A spy? Is Chaucer's language too difficult for modern readers? 30 Great Myths about Chaucer explores the widely held ideas and opinions about the medieval poet, discussing how 'myths' have influenced Chaucer's reception history and interpretations of his poetry through the centuries.
This unique text offers original insights on the character of Chaucer, the nature of his works, the myths that inform our conceptions of Chaucer, and the underlying causes of these myths. Each accessible and engaging chapter focuses on a specific myth, including those surrounding Chaucer's romantic life, political leanings, religious views, personal struggles, financial challenges, ideas about chivalry, representations of social class, and many others. More than simply correcting inaccurate facts or clarifying common misconceptions about Chaucer, the text delves deeper to address how the myths have shaped the critical interpretation and enduring literary legacy of Chaucer. This innovative volume:
Explores how generations of readers continue to shape understanding of Chaucer Highlights the intersection of medievalism and Chaucer studies Helps readers detach myths about Chaucer from critical readings of his works Examines whether myths about Chaucer are based on historical fact or literary interpretation Discusses the history of reading Chaucer in contexts of biography, criticism, and popular culture 30 Great Myths about Chaucer is an indispensable resource for academics, researchers, graduate students, upper-level undergraduates, and general readers with interest in Chaucer and early English and Middle Ages literature.
Thomas A. Prendergast
, Stephanie Trigg
Country of Publication:
03 April 2020
Professional and scholarly
Acknowledgments vii Introduction: Mythical Chaucer ix Myth 1 Chaucer is the Father of English Literature 1 Myth 2 Chaucer was the First English Poet 7 Myth 3 Chaucer Suffered an Unrequited Love 13 Myth 4 Chaucer's Marriage was Unhappy 19 Myth 5 Chaucer's Son Thomas was John of Gaunt's Bastard 25 Myth 6 Chaucer's Language is too Difficult for Modern Readers 31 Myth 7 The Canterbury Pilgrims Represent all Social Classes and Character Types 37 Myth 8 The Canterbury Pilgrims are Based on Real People 45 Myth 9 The Canterbury Pilgrims form a Merry Company 51 Myth 10 Chaucer was a Feminist 57 Myth 11 Chaucer was Guilty of Rape 65 Myth 12 Chaucer had a Falling out with his Best Friend 71 Myth 13 Chaucer Lived in the Middle Ages 77 Myth 14 Chaucer was a Proto?Protestant 83 Myth 15 Chaucer was Anti?Semitic 87 Myth 16 Chaucer was a Spy 93 Myth 17 Chaucer was a Crook 99 Myth 18 Chaucer was a Political Opportunist 105 Myth 19 The Wife of Bath Murdered her Husband 109 Myth 20 Chaucer Outs the Pardoner 115 Myth 21 Chaucer Never Finished the Canterbury Tales 121 Myth 22 Chaucer is Obscene 127 Myth 23 Chaucer was Skeptical of Chivalry 133 Myth 24 Chaucer Described Himself in his Works 139 Myth 25 Chaucer Wrote the First Novel in English 145 Myth 26 Chaucer was in Danger of Being Thrown in Debtor's Prison 151 Myth 27 Chaucer Renounced his Works on his Deathbed 155 Myth 28 Chaucer is Buried in his Own Tomb 161 Myth 29 Chaucer was the First Poet Laureate 167 Myth 30 Contemporary Literary Theory is Irrelevant to Chaucer 173 Coda 179 Further Reading 185 Works Cited 189 Index 203
Thomas A. Prendergast is Professor of English at the College of Wooster, USA. He is the author of Poetical Dust: Poets' Corner and the Making of Britain, co-author of Affective Medievalism: Love, Abjection and Discontent and co-editor of Chaucer and the Subversion of Form. Stephanie Trigg is Redmond Barry Distinguished Professor of English Literature at the University of Melbourne, Australia. She is author of Shame and Honor: A Vulgar History of the Order of the Garter and co-author of Affective Medievalism: Love, Abjection and Discontent.