STYLE AND RHETORIC, INCLUDING IRONIC TECHNIQUE         

[Cross-references included at the bottom of the page]

 

131. BENSON, ROBERT G. Medieval Body Language: A Study of Use of Gesture in Chaucer's Poetry." Anglistica, no. 21. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger, 1980, 170 pp.

Analyzes Chaucer's use of bodily movement, manner, bearing, posture, and expression in his poetry, linking such gestures to colloquial style and showing how they vivify action, produce irony, and establish character. In his early poems, Chaucer reproduces conventional gestures of romance and hagiography, modifying them somewhat in House of Fame, Parliament of Fowls, and Legend of Good Women. In the fabliaux of the Canterbury Tales, colloquial style and a wider range of gestures enliven action and parody conventional gestures, producing irony. Pandarus is individuated by his gestures in Troilus and Criseyde, Chaucer's most sustained and sophisticated use of gesture. Includes an appendix of gestures explicit in Chaucer.

132. BIRNEY, EARLE. "Is Chaucer's Irony a Modern Discovery?" JEGP 41 (1942):303-19.

Surveys sensitivity to Chaucer's humor from the Ellesmere illustrator through the nineteenth century, noting how readers and critics generally responded positively to Chaucer's ironic comedy, although their particular emphases reflect their assumptions and interests.

133. BISHOP, IAN. "Chaucer and the Rhetoric of Consolation." Medium AEvum 52 (1983):38-50.

Chaucer obliquely and ironically exploits traditional methods of consolation. Failed consolation conveys inexpressible grief in Book of the Duchess and establishes Troilus's distance from Pandarus in Troilus and Criseyde. Theseus's expedient consolation in Knight's Tale is a "resolution rather than a solution." Aurelius's consolation of Dorigen's complaint against the rocks encourages illusion in Franklin's Tale. Through the hag's "amplified" consolatory discussion of gentilesse in Wife of Bath's Tale, Chaucer makes game of the traditional "remedies against Fortune."

134. CROSBY, RUTH. "Chaucer and the Custom of Oral Delivery." Speculum 13 (1938):413-32.

Collects examples of Chaucer's direct address to his audience as evidence of his oral delivery and identifies his use of oral conventions--epithetic adjectives, stock phrases, asseverations, and "religious beginnings and endings"--to demonstrate the influence of popular romances on him.

135. EVERETT, DOROTHY. "Some Reflections on Chaucer's 'Art Poetical'." Proceedings of the British Academy 36 (1950):132-54. Reprinted in Essays on Middle English Literature by Dorothy Everett, ed. by Patricia Kean (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1955), pp. 149-74, and Chaucer's Mind and Art, ed. by A.C. Cawley, Essays Old and New, no. 3 (London: Oliver & Boyd, 1969), pp. 99- 124.

Identifies patterns of verbal repetition and formal parallelism in Book of the Duchess, Parliament of Fowls, and elsewhere. These patterns and the arrangement of rhetorical devices in the tales of the Pardoner, Manciple, and Nun's Priest demonstrate that Chaucer learned more from rhetorical handbooks than simple colors and techniques of adornment.

136. KIERNAN, KEVIN S. "The Art of the Descending Catalogue, and a Fresh Look at Alison." Chaucer Review 10 (1975):1-16.

Identifies Chaucer's manipulation of the typical head- to-toe effictio of beauty. Chaucer's descriptions of Criseyde, Emily, the Prioress, the Wife of Bath, Sir Thopas, Malyne, and especially Alisoun of Miller's Tale modify conventions of the effictio to produce special effects.

137. KNIGHT, STEPHEN. Rymyng Craftily: Meaning in Chaucer's Poetry. Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1973, 265 pp.

Examines Chaucer's poetic style, summarizing critical opinion and evaluating his rhetorical figures, levels of diction, syntax, prosody, and his stylistic consistency, variety, and range. Criticizes Anelida and Arcite for inconsistency and Manciple's Tale for deviation from its prologue. Praises Parliament of Fowls, Troilus and Criseyde, and the tales of the Knight, Franklin, and Nun's Priest for their "meaning-implying poetic modulation." Cadence and rhetorical density establish authorial tone and the attitudes of high and low characters. Chaucer's poetry draws upon medieval rhetorical tradition, especially Geoffrey of Vinsauf, but it also repays close, modern attention to sound and sense. Appendix defines thirty-five rhetorical figures.

138. MacDONALD, DONALD. "Proverbs, Sententiae, and Exempla in Chaucer's Comic Tales: The Function of Comic Misapplication." Speculum 41 (1966):453-65.

Surveys Chaucer's comic abusers of such "monitory elements" as proverbs, sententiae, and exempla: the foolish, the calculatedly shrewd, and the would-be deceivers who fail. Such characterizations derive from the context in which the characters use admonitory material, often irrelevantly or in order to manipulate others.

139. MANLY, JOHN MATTHEWS. "Chaucer and the Rhetoricians." Proceedings of the British Academy 12 (1926):95-113. Reprinted in Chaucer Criticism, Volume I: "The Canterbury Tales", ed. by Richard J. Schoeck and Jerome Taylor (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1960), pp. 268-90.

Initiates the study of Chaucer's knowledge and use of rhetoric and rhetorical theory by summarizing the tradition and exemplifying its impact on Chaucer's poetry: his methods of organization and techniques of amplification and abbreviation. Argues that Chaucer abandoned an early, serious use of rhetorical figures, later putting them in the mouths of characters for dramatic, ironic effect.

140. MURPHY, JAMES J. "A New Look at Chaucer and the Rhetoricians." Review of English Studies 15 (1964):1-20.

Challenges Manly's assertion (entry 139) that Chaucer was directly influenced by the medieval rhetoricians, specifically Geoffrey of Vinsauf, demonstrating how Chaucer's scattered allusions to rhetoric, style, and Vinsauf reflect a "generalized concept of rhetoric" rather than expertise, and how the rhetorical figures Chaucer uses were available to him in grammatical handbooks and French models.

141. MUSCATINE, CHARLES. Chaucer and the French Tradition. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1957, 282 pp.

An important study that examines the styles of French poetry as they contribute to Chaucer's style, tracing the idealizing, non-representational conventions of court romances from the early twelfth century to their epitome in Guillaume de Lorris's portion of Roman de la rose, and surveying the bourgeois but no less conventional characteristics of fabliaux, beast epics, and fables as they influence Jean de Meun's portion of the Roman. Chaucer fused these traditions in his mature poetry through juxtaposition, blending, and parody. Book of the Duchess reflects a relatively pure courtly style; increasing use of bourgeois conventions enrich House of Fame and Parliament of Fowls. Troilus and Criseyde balances courtliness and bourgeoisie, contrasting both with Boethian sublimity to disclose their limits. Canterbury Tales displays the courtly (Knight's and Clerk's tales), the bourgeois (Reeve's, Wife of Bath's, and Canon's tales), and rich mixtures (Miller's, Merchant's, and Nun's Priest's tales). The various styles and tones accumulate to produce a Gothic tension between the ideal and the phenomenal.

142. MUSCATINE, CHARLES. "Chaucer: Irony and Its Alternatives." In Poetry and Crisis in the Age of Chaucer. University of Notre Dame Ward-Phillips Lectures in English Language and Literature, no. 4. Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1972, pp.111-45.

Grants that irony is Chaucer's "characteristic response to the fourteenth-century dilemma," but identifies other strains in his poetry: dramatic realism, courtly idealism, epic heroism, romance, and especially pathos. Locates these styles in Chaucer's works and links them to contemporary sensibilities.

143. NORTON-SMITH, J. "Chaucer's Epistolary Style." In Essays on Style and Language: Linguistic and Critical Approaches to Literary Style. Edited by Roger Fowler. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1966, pp. 157-65.

Discusses Chaucer's innovative and influential verse epistles in Troilus and Criseyde. Argues also that Horace's Satires and Odes influenced the syntax, imagery, tone, and structure of Envoy to Scogan, and less clearly, Envoy to Bukton.

144. PAYNE, ROBERT O. The Key of Remembrance: A Study of Chaucer's Poetics. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1963, 258 pp.

A seminal study of Chaucer's poetic self-consciousness which surveys the development of medieval poetic theory out of classical poetic and rhetorical traditions, documents Chaucer's rich sensitivity to poetic and rhetorical concerns, and reads the corpus of Chaucer's poetry as an ongoing exploration of and experimentation with his poetic assumptions. Chaucer's individual poems examine the relations among tradition, ethics and language. The early love visions counterpose the demands of tradition and ethics to the limits of poetry and the poet. Canterbury Tales experiments with individual styles and genres to explore the potential value of poetry. Troilus and Criseyde, Chaucer's most traditionally rhetorical poem, leads its audience beyond aesthetic reaction to ethical discovery.

145. PAYNE, ROBERT O. "Rhetoric in Chaucer: Chaucer's Realization of Himself as Rhetor." In Medieval Eloquence: Studies in the Theory and Practice of Medieval Rhetoric. Edited by James J. Murphy. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978, pp. 270-87.

Places Chaucer's narrative techniques in the context of classical and Christian rhetoric, arguing that his reintroduction of rhetorical ethos differs from dominant medieval rhetorical theory, and reclaims a commonplace of classical tradition. Contrasts Parson and Pardoner as preachers who, respectively, do and do not reflect themselves in their rhetoric.

146. PRESSON, ROBERT K. "The Aesthetic of Chaucer's Art of Contrast." English Miscellany 15 (1964):9-23.

Surveys Chaucer's penchant for using meaningful oppositions, disjunctions, and juxtapositions, exemplifying various contrasts in diction, imagery, characterization, and levels of style from Canterbury Tales.

147. REISS, EDMUND. "Chaucer and Medieval Irony." Studies in the Age of Chaucer 1 (1979):67-82.

Links Chaucer's irony to Augustinian theory of the inadequacy of language, tracing the tentative relation between word and truth in select passages of Canterbury Tales and the conclusion to Troilus and Criseyde. The essence of Chaucer's irony lies in his awareness that poetry must be superceded in order to be fulfilled.

148. REISS, EDMUND. "Chaucer's Thematic Particulars." In Signs and Symbols in Chaucer's Poetry. Edited by John P. Herman and John J. Burke, Jr. University: University of Alabama, 1981, pp. 27-42.

Surveys representative examples of Chaucer's "thematic particulars," his details that signify on a thematic or symbolic level. Such details as the number of Canterbury pilgrims, repeated words or phrases, or suggestive references blend symbol and irony to do more than merely advance plot.

149. SALMON, VIVIAN. "The Representation of Colloquial Speech in the Canterbury Tales." In Style and Text: Studies Presented to Nils Erik Enkvist. Edited by Hakan Ringbom. Stockholm: Skriptor, 1975, pp. 263-77.

Illustrates Chaucer's representation of colloquial speech, analyzing the linguistic and performative features of such speech as they appear in the dialogues in Chaucer's works. Discusses features of colloquial speech in three categories: expression, exchange, and intention.

150. SCHLAUCH, MARGARET. "Chaucer's Colloquial English: Its Structural Traits." PMLA 67 (1952):1103-16. Examines Chaucer's poetic syntax to demonstrate how he suggests colloquial idiom. Analyzes syntactical "looseness," repetition, ellipsis, and "overlapping and shifted constructions" to show how he creates character through effective dialogue and atmosphere through description.

151. WENZEL, SIEGFRIED. "Chaucer and the Language of Contemporary Preaching." Studies in Philology 73 (1976):138-61.

Surveys a variety of echoes from contemporary sermons and sermon handbooks in Chaucer's poetry, identifying not specific sources but plots, images, and terminology common to the sermons. Chaucer's narratives do not emulate sermons structurally, but they reflect his sensitivity to the "idiom of contemporary preaching."

See also 45, 47, 87, 100, 114, 176, 181, 189, 287-88, 292, 336, 381, 439, 453, 714, 716, 718, 749, 751, 806, 812, 890. For rhetoric: 3, 106, 277, 279, 284, 313, 341, 418, 526, 635, 713, 849; ironic technique: 311-12, 379, 392, 458, 477, 674, 686, 712, 800, 901; realism: 156, 276, 278, 283, 329, 388, 389, 449, 720-21.

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