CANTERBURY TALES--EVOLUTION AND ORDER           

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

 

262. ALLEN, JUDSON BOYCE, and MORITZ, THERESA ANNE. A Distinction of Stories: The Medieval Unity of Chaucer's Fair Chain of Narratives for Canterbury. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1981, 269 pp.

Proposes a new order for the Canterbury Tales as a collection of exemplary narratives, based on medieval precedent, especially commentaries on Ovid's Metamorphoses, the quintessential collection of tales in the Middle Ages. Four categories derived from the commentaries structure the arrangement of Chaucer's tales, each category reflecting a kind of transformation and each including a descending order of tales: "natural" changes in human society (Knight's to Cook's tales), illusory changes of magic (Second Nun's to Pardoner's), moral transformations (Man of Law's to Shipman's), and spiritual change (Prioress's to Parson's). The arrangement prompts a cogent reading of each tale. In particular, the four-part structure of the Knight's Tale anticipates the four-part structure of the whole, and its resolution in marriage anticipates the predominance of marriage as an image of harmony throughout.

263. BENSON, LARRY D. "The Order of the Canterbury Tales." Studies in the Age of Chaucer 3 (1981):77-120.

Argues from manuscript evidence that only two orders of the Canterbury Tales circulated early, perhaps before Chaucer's death, and that the Ellesmere order "represents Chaucer's own final arrangement." Directly addresses Manly and Rickert's contention (entry 31) that manuscript evidence does not suggest a satisfactory order, and challenges Blake's argument (entry 265) for the primacy of the Hengwrt arrangement.

264. BLAKE, N.F. "Critics, Criticism and the Order of The Canterbury Tales." Archiv fur das Studien der neueren Sprachen und Literaturen 218 (1981):47-58.

Challenges critical attempts to assess the structure of the Canterbury Tales on the grounds that the poem is a disorganized series of fragments. Manuscript evidence and internal clues suggest that Chaucer had no overall, complete design at the time of his death.

265. BLAKE, N.F. "The Relationship between the Hengwrt and the Ellesmere Manuscripts of the Canterbury Tales." Essays and Studies 32 (1979):1-18.

Reconstructs the likely method of composition of the Hengwrt and Ellesmere manuscripts of Canterbury Tales to argue for the primacy of the Hengwrt and, therefore, for the inauthenticity of the Ellesmere order of the tales. The Hengwrt was probably compiled from disordered fragments left by Chaucer at his death, and the apparent cogency of the descendent Ellesmere is due to an editor who added the Canon's Yeoman's Tale and clarified the role of the Wife of Bath.

266. COX, LEE SHERIDAN. "A Question of Order in the Canterbury Tales." Chaucer Review 1 (1967):228-52.

Defends the Ellesmere manuscript's ordering of the Man of Law's and Wife of Bath's tales on thematic and stylistic grounds and argues for the authenticity of the Man of Law's endlink, emending "scribal error" so that the Wife of Bath interrupts the Host.

267. DEMPSTER, GERMAINE. "The Fifteenth-Century Editors of the Canterbury Tales and the Problem of Tale Order." PMLA 64 (1949):1123-42.

Attempts to establish the development of the various orderings of the Canterbury Tales as recorded in the manuscripts by examining the relations among the orderings and suggesting reasons for their influence on one another.

268. DONALDSON, E. T[ALBOT]. "The Ordering of the Canterbury Tales." In Medieval Literature and Folklore Studies: Essays in Honor of Francis Lee Utley. Edited by Jerome Mandel and Bruce A. Rosenberg. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1970, pp. 193-204.

Prefers the order of the Canterbury tales found in the Ellesmere manuscript to emended orderings or those of other manuscripts, even with the Ellesmere's apparent reversal of Sittingbourne and Rochester and the textual uncertainty of Man of Law's Epilogue. The geographical confusion is minor and the epilogue was probably cancelled by Chaucer. Includes an important survey of related criticism.

269. HAMMOND, ELEANOR P. "On the Order of the Canterbury Tales: Caxton's Two Editons." Modern Philology 3 (1905):159-78.

An important early plea for caution when discussing the issues of order among the Canterbury tales. Demonstrates the complexity of such issues by contrasting Caxton's editions of the tales, and suggests that the textual fragments may never be resolved into "organic unity."

270. KEISER, GEORGE. "In Defense of the Bradshaw Shift." Chaucer Review 12 (1978):191-201.

Challenges the criticism leveled against the Bradshaw shift in the order of Canterbury Tales (moving Fragment VII to follow II), focusing on the relation of Man of Law's Endlink to the Man of Law's Tale, the geographical justification for the shift, and the textual issues involved.

271. OWEN, CHARLES A., Jr. "The Alternative Reading of the Canterbury Tales: Chaucer's Text and the Early Manuscripts." PMLA 97 (1982):237-50.

Studies the nature of and relations among the six earliest surviving manuscripts of Canterbury Tales to argue that, at his death, Chaucer left a group of fragments that better reflect the stages in a developing plan than a unified work. The glosses, layout, rubrics, and spurious additions to these manuscripts indicate an ongoing attempt by an editor or the scribes to resolve the inconsistencies Chaucer left.

272. OWEN, CHARLES A., Jr. Pilgrimage and Storytelling in the "Canterbury Tales": The Dialectics of "Ernest" and "Game". Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1977, 262 pp.

Hypothesizes the developmental stages in Chaucer's growing but unrevised scheme for Canterbury Tales, explaining inconsistencies in the text as the result of a shift in emphasis from "ernest" to "game," i.e., from an emphasis on pilgrimage to an emphasis on the drama of the story-telling contest. The Wife of Bath's character and the chronology and geography of the Pilgrims' Way indicate the final plan for a six-day journey, three days to Canterbury and three returning, concluding with Parson's Prologue and an "unwritten final tale," a dramatic confrontation between the Host and his wife, and the prize-awarding supper. Traces the "dynamics of character" and the thematic concerns of individual portions, especially General Prologue, and tales of the Knight, Miller, Shipman, Nun's Priest, Pardoner, Thopas, Melibee, and the Marriage Group.

273. OWEN, CHARLES A., Jr. "The Transformation of a Frame Story: The Dynamics of Fiction." In Chaucer at Albany. Ed. by Rossell Hope Robbins. New York: Burt Franklin & Co., 1975, pp. 125-46.

Attempts to establish from internal evidence the changes in Chaucer's plan for the Canterbury tales. The contrasting prologues of the Man of Law and the Parson, the vitality of the Wife of Bath, and the polished completeness of Fragment I indicate stages in Chaucer's plan which was to end in a feast of celebration rather than the penance of the Parson's Tale.

274. PRATT, ROBERT A. "The Order of the Canterbury Tales." PMLA 66 (1951):1141-67.

Defends and the so-called "Bradshaw shift" in the Ellesmere order of Canterbury Tales, moving Fragment VII to follow Fragment II. Disagrees with the further shift involving Fragment VI entailed in the Chaucer Society order. Surveys the histories of the various orders and assesses internal and textual evidence to argue for the following order: I, II, VII, III, IV, V, VI, VIII, IX, X.

275. RUTLEDGE, SHERYL P. "Chaucer's Zodiac of Tales." Costerus 9 (1973):117-43.

Suggests that the sequence of the Canterbury tales follows the cycle of the zodiac, describing echoes of the iconography and symbolism of the zodiacical signs and their associated planets in General Prologue and the first ten tales of the Ellesmere order.

See also entries 35, 47, 251, 254, 295.

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