CANTERBURY TALES--GENERAL PROLOGUE               

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

 

329. BADENDYCK, J. LAWRENCE. "Chaucer's Portrait Technique and the Dream Vison Tradition." English Record 21, no. 1 (1970):113-25.

Describes Chaucer's descriptive technique in the General Prologue as an art that derives, not from a visual representation of contemporary reality, but from his ability to represent "a mode of existence similar to ours." He offers a sense of the pilgrims' pasts as well as their present; he implies their social interactions, when not stated, in ways that help create the illusion of reality.

330. BOWDEN, MURIEL. A Commentary on the General Prologue to the "Canterbury Tales". 2d ed. New York: Macmillan, 1967, 341 pp.

An essential handbook to General Prologue that explains its many details through quotation of medieval sources and survey of modern scholarship. Defines dated terminology and provides context for references, allusions, and imagery. The format follows Chaucer's, moving from the images of springtime and pilgrimage through the details of each pilgrim's sketch, including the Host's. The heavily documented discussion clarifies the conventional quality of Chaucer's pilgrimage and pilgrims and establishes their individuating characteristics. Chaucer's idealization or criticism of the pilgrims is a recurrent concern. Does not consider the iconographic tradition of the sketches, nor more recent work in estates satire, yet makes apparent much of the breadth of Chaucer's learning and social sensitivity.

331. CUNNINGHAM, J.V. "The Literary Form of the Prologue to the Canterbury Tales." Modern Philology 49 (1952):172-81.

Compares the techniques of description used in the General Prologue to those of the portraits on the wall of the garden in Roman de la rose, concluding that Chaucer modelled his Prologue on the French poem and was influenced by the broader tradition of dream vision.

332. EBERLE, PATRICIA J. "Commercial Language and the Commercial Outlook in the General Prologue." Chaucer Review 18 (1983):161-74.

Maintains that Chaucer combines and modifies the language and imagery of estates satire and courtly literature in his General Prologue, producing an innovative "common idiom" which assumes its audience's familiarity with the commercial world, regardless of their income or class.

333. HIGDON, DAVID L. "Diverse Melodies in Chaucer's General Prologue." Criticism 14 (1972):97-108.

Briefly summarizes medieval notions of the relation between music and morality, and explores the use of musical imagery as a technique of characterization in General Prologue. Groups the pilgrims according to their associations with pleasant music or sound, with cacaphony, and with silence or open hostility to music.

334. HIGGS, ELTON D. "The Old Order and the 'Newe World' in the General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales." Huntington Library Quarterly 45 (1982):155-73.

Follows Howard's analysis (entry 253) of the arrangement of the pilgrims in General Prologue and discusses it as evidence of Chaucer's sensitivity to contemporary social change. The Knight's feudal fealty contrasts with the new social mobility and fashion evident in the sequence of pilgrims from the Squire to the Merchant. The Clerk's traditional learning opposes the entrepreneurial knowledge of the pilgrims who immediately follow him in the Prologue. The Parson and the Plowman represent "old rural service" in contrast to the "unprincipled manipulation" of the concluding "rogues of disorder."

335 HOFFMAN, ARTHUR W. "Chaucer's Prologue to Pilgrimage: The Two Voices." ELH: A Journal of English Literary History 21 (1954):1-16. Reprinted in Chaucer: Modern Essays in Criticism, ed. by Edward Wagenknecht (New York: Oxford University Press, 1959), pp. 30-45; Chaucer: The "Canterbury Tales": A Casebook, ed. by J.J. Anderson (London: Macmillan, 1974), pp. 105-20.

Explores the dualism of the opening eighteen lines of General Prologue as it appears in representative sketches of the pilgrims. The relations between heaven and earth, spirit and body, health and sickness underlie the pairing of Knight and Squire, Parson and Plowman, and Summoner and Pardoner. The Prioress's sketch embodies a similar relation. This counterpoise unifies General Prologue.

336. KNIGHT, STEPHEN. "Chaucer--A Modern Writer?" Balcony 2 (1965):37-43.

Approaches Chaucer's perceived modernity as an aspect of his portrayal of character, especially clear in those disreputable characters of General Prologue whose depictions reflect the modern nominalistic mode of perception that was just entering mainstream thought from the universities in Chaucer's day. Chaucer's ideal portaits reflect, on the other hand, traditional realist thought.

337. MANN, JILL. Chaucer and Medieval Estates Satire: The Literature of Social Classes and the General Prologue to the "Canterbury Tales". Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1973, 348 pp.

Documents the fundamental importance of estates satire to the portraits in the General Prologue. Chaucer borrows from traditional complaints against the estates, but modifies our reaction to their details through "simple, attractive similes," and a shifting, often empathetic point of view. Surprising or ambiguous contexts remind us of the relative value of words, and the "omission of victims" directs our attention to the activities of the pilgrims rather than the effects of these actions upon others. The moral relativism that results is undercut by comic irony. Extensive notes and bibliography detail pertinent Chaucer criticism as well as primary estates material from Latin, French, and English traditions.

338. MARTIN, LOY D. "History and Form in the General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales." ELH: A Journal of English Literary History 45 (1978):1-17.

Identifies the form of General Prologue as a rhetorical catalog of types, familiar in dream visions. The catalog of pilgrims consistently emphasizes the "disjunction between pilgrimage and ordinary life," enabling Chaucer to explore the "anxiety" of the late fourteenth-century shift from traditional social ranks to "materially motivated" economic classes.

339. MORGAN, GERALD. "The Design of the General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales." English Studies 59 (1978):481-98.

Correlates the arrangement of the pilgrims in General Prologue with fourteenth-century social ranks, arguing from social history and lexical analysis. The portraits from Knight to Franklin constitute the gentils. The commoners follow, from the aspiring Guildsmen to the final group of churls. Irony and ambiguity derive from this social ordering.

340. MORGAN, GERALD. "The Universality of the Portraits in the General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales." English Studies 58 (1977):481-93.

Challenges the traditional descriptions of Chaucer's pilgrims as either "typical" or "individual" on the grounds that such distinctions are modern . Argues that the details of the portraits of Knight, Monk, and Wife of Bath reflect the medieval understanding of "concrete universals," a seminal notion in the Platonic and Aristotelian tradition of philosophical realism.

341. PARR, ROGER P. "Chaucer's Art of Portraiture." Studies in Medieval Culture 4 (1974):428-36.

Explores Chaucer's use of rhetorical figures in the portraits in the General Prologue, particularly the Knight, Prioress, and Monk, noting Chaucer's dominant concern with moral rather than physical description, with notatio rather than effictio.

342. SPENCER, WILLIAM. "Are Chaucer's Pilgrims Keyed to the Zodiac?" Chaucer Review 4 (1970):147-70.

Tentatively suggests an astrological pattern in the arrangement of the pilgrims as they appear in General Prologue, an incomplete pattern based upon the planets which "rule" the signs of the zodiac. Identifies details of the sketches that corroborate the association of each pilgrim with an individual sign and planet, and cites mythographic commentaries which clarify the relations.

See also entries 6, 47, 169, 177, 201, 216, 251, 253, 255, 257, 261, 272, 275, 678.

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