CANTERBURY TALES--THE CLERK AND HIS TALE           

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

 

475. BREWER, DEREK [S]. "Some Metonymic Relationships in Chaucer's Poetry." Poetica 1 (1974):1-20. Reprinted in Chaucer: The Poet as Storyteller, (London: Macmillan Press, 1984), pp. 37-53.

Examines the word "sad" in Chaucer's Clerk's Tale to show that meaning in Chaucer's poetry derives, not from extraliterary patterns of similarity or metaphor, but from metonymy or contextual association. As evident in its associations, "sad" means "constancy" or "constant in adversity," reflecting Griselda's ability to "suppress natural feelings in the name of a higher obligation."

476. CARRUTHERS, MARY J. "The Lady, the Swineherd, and Chaucer's Clerk." Chaucer Review 17 (1983):221-34.

The narrative "voice" of the Clerk's Tale emphasizes the inhuman cruelty of Walter's treatment of Griselda and the innate virtue of her gentilesse, thematically extending the ideals of truth and integrity articulated in the Wife of Bath's Tale, and contradicting the stereotype of stern clerkly antifeminism.

477. CHERNISS, MICHAEL D. "The Clerk's Tale and Envoy, the Wife of Bath's Purgatory, and the Merchant's Tale." Chaucer Review 6 (1972):235-54.

Observes a double irony in the Clerk's Envoy and considers it an index to the Merchant's Tale. The envoy ironically offers Griselda as a model of wifely conduct, but it also suggests, with double irony, that wives can be purgatories on earth for their husbands. The theme of marriage as purgatory runs throughout the Merchant's Tale, undercutting January's self-delusory notion that it is paradise.

478. HAWKINS, HARRIET. "The Victim's Side: Chaucer's Clerk's Tale and Webster's Duchess of Malfi." Signs 1 (1975):339-61. Reprinted in Poetic Freedom and Poetic Truth: Chaucer, Shakespeare, Marlowe, Milton. Oxford: Clarendon, 1976, pp. 25-54.

Reads Clerk's Tale as an attack on tyranny, a "horror story" which deviates from its sources in order to emphasize the cruelty of Walter and the pitiableness of Griselda. Tragic fortitude instead of pathos functions in Webster's Duchess of Malfi.

479. HENINGER, S.K., Jr. "The Concept of Order in Chaucer's Clerk's Tale." JEGP: Journal of English and Germanic Philology 56 (1957):382-95.

Reads Clerk's Tale as an orthodox expression of the medieval belief that "divinely ordained order" is mirrored in the marital relationship. The tale's overt concern with obedience, governance, and degree affirms order and is appropriate to the Clerk as a "serious student of medieval philosophy."

480. JOHNSON, LYNN STALEY. "The Prince and His People: A Study of the Two Covenants in the Clerk's Tale." Chaucer Review 10 (1975):17-29.

Contrasts the obedience of Griselda with the social unrest of Walter's people to explore the moral and political theme of common profit in Clerk's Tale. Griselda represents the New Covenant and the people the Old, while Walter is the "agent of testing." In its emblematic characterization and stark ideology, the tale is one of Chaucer's "most artificial."

481. KELLOGG, ALFRED L. "The Evolution of the Clerk's Tale: A Study in Connotation." In Chaucer, Langland, Arthur: Essays in Middle English Literature. By Alfred L. Kellogg. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1972, pp. 276-329.

Traces the background and development of the tale of Griselda in Boccaccio, Petrarch, and Chaucer. Boccaccio's version reflects the "confused state" of the poet's emotions about the "double morality" of the tale. Petrarch's Latinizing of Boccaccio's tale encourages allegorical interpretation through connotative language and Scriptural allusions. Chaucer's version clarifies and amplifies Petrarch's emphasis, making the tale dramatically appropriate to the theological Clerk.

482. KRIEGER, ELLIOTT. "Re-Reading Allegory: The Clerk's Tale." Paunch 40-51 (1975):116-36.

Studies Clerk's Tale as a political and moral allegory, reading it against Chaucer's "moral balades"-- Truth, Lak of Stedfastness and Gentilesse--and arguing that it asserts the conservative principle of hierarchy in domestic, political, and spiritual relations.

483. LANHAM, RICHARD A. "Chaucer's Clerk's Tale: The Poem Not the Myth." Literature and Psychology 16 (1966):157-65.

Questions the validity of psychoanalyzing the characters of Clerk's Tale, and suggests that as a superb example of clerkly rhetorical argument, the tale can better be viewed for its psychological effects upon its audience. The tale soothes the "irreconcilable" tensions it confronts, allowing each pilgrim "good arguments for whatever attitude" he or she has toward the tale.

484. LEVY, BERNARD S. "Gentilesse in Chaucer's Clerk's and Merchant's Tales." Chaucer Review 11 (1977):306-18.

Reads the Merchant's presentation of gentilesse as a retort to the views of the Wife of Bath and the Clerk. The Wife defines gentilesse in terms of "manners, virtue, and sexual indulgence," and the Clerk aligns it with divine grace and noble birth. The Merchant's Tale demonstrates that gentilesse can not be achieved through marriage, nor through "inherited" or "natural" virtue.

485. McNAMARA, JOHN. "Chaucer's Use of the Epistle of St. James in the Clerk's Tale." Chaucer Review 7 (1973):184-93.

Pursues the implications of the Clerk's reference to St. James at the end of his tale, arguing that Jamesian theology underlies the plot of the tale, especially Chaucer's version. Walter's temptation of Griselda, permitted by God, enables her to show her Job-like patience, blending faith and good works as James advises.

486. MIDDLETON, ANNE. "The Clerk and His Tale: Some Literary Contexts." Studies in the Age of Chaucer 2 (1980):121- 50.

Contrasts the context of the Clerk's Tale with other medieval versions of the Griselda story to demonstrate how Chaucer's frame creates an elaborate, witty bit of literary posturing on the part of the Clerk. Through the Clerk's "obeisant" response to the Host and the complex irony of his envoy, Chaucer creates a Petrarchan man of letters who is aware of his audience's lack of sophistication.

487. RAMSEY, ROGER. "Clothing Makes a Queen in the Clerk's Tale." Journal of Narrative Technique 7 (1977):104-15.

Analyzes the dominant clothing imagery of Clerk's Tale and associates it with the tale's concern with social degree.

488. REIMAN, DONALD H. "The Real Clerk's Tale: or, Patient Griselda Explained." Texas Studies in Language and Literature 5 (1963):356-73.

Identifies the theme of Clerk's Tale as the need for a transcendent perspective. Griselda does not reflect this perspective since she subordinates herself to Walter rather than God. The Clerk imples an Aristotelian mean when he details the opposed excesses of Walter and Griselda, thus realigning the Marriage Group's focus on mastery to the higher concern of the sovereignty of God.

489. ROTHMAN, IRVING N. "Humility and Obedience in the Clerk's Tale, with the Envoy Considered as an Ironic Affirmation." Papers in Language and Literature 9 (1973):115-27.

Analyzes the Clerk's envoy as an ironic contradiction of the virtues of humility and obedience depicted in his tale--by implication, a reaffirmation of these virtues aimed at the Wife of Bath. In the tale, Chaucer develops these virtues in ways that anticipate his envoy.

490. SEVERS, J. BURKE. "Chaucer's Clerks." In Chaucer and Middle English Studies in honour of Rossell Hope Robbins. Edited by Beryl Rowland. London: George Allen & Unwin, 1974, pp. 140-52.

Examines Chaucer's fictional clerks in light of contemporary social history, exploring the poet's realistic use of university practice in creating the Clerk-pilgrim, Nicolas and Absolon of Miller's Tale, John and Aleyn of Reeve's Tale, the astrologer of Franklin's Tale, and the Wife of Bath's fifth husband.

491. SEVERS, J. BURKE. The Literary Relationships of Chaucer's Clerkes Tale. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press; New York: Modern Language Association, 1942. Reprint. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, 1972, 380 pp.

Expands the Clerk's Tale section of Bryan and Dempster (entry 252), also by Severs, providing authoritative texts and scholarly analysis of the analogues to the tale, and comparing the analogues to Clerk's Tale, particularly Petrarch's Latin version and its anonymous French translation, Le livre Griseldis. Chaucer relied chiefly upon the French text, but close comparison reflects the direct influence of Petrarch on Chaucer's habits of translation and originality of characterization, narrative technique, imagery, and diction. Denies that Chaucer was influenced by Boccaccio's version in Decameron.

492. SLEDD, JAMES. "The Clerk's Tale: The Monsters and the Critics." Modern Philology 51 (1953):73-82. Reprinted in Chaucer: Modern Essays in Criticism, ed. by Edward Wagenknecht (New York: Oxford University Press, 1959), pp. 226-39; 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. 160-74.

Assesses Clerk's Tale as a "secular saint's legend," granting that its action is "frankly marvelous," and exploring its pathos and sentimentality. Challenges critical attempts to treat the tale dramatically or to account for its improbablility, claiming that such attempts deny the tale the "narrative values" through which it evokes its "compassionate wonder."

493. STEINMETZ, DAVID C. "Late Medieval Nominalism and the Clerk's Tale." Chaucer Review 12 (1977):38-54.

Reads Clerk's Tale as an allegory of the late-medieval "nominalistic doctrine of justification," accepting Walter as a flawed reflection of a God, and reading Griselda as one whose suffering obedience justifies her election. Associates the Clerk's message with "Occamist principles."

494. STEPSIS, ROBERT. "Potentia Absoluta and the Clerk's Tale." Chaucer Review 10 (1975):129-46.

Explains the extreme "willfulness" of Walter in Chaucer's Clerk's Tale as a reflection of the fourteenth-century notion of the absolute power of God, a notion important to English thinkers Thomas Bradwardine and William of Ockham. Describes how the notion affected the thought of these Oxford philosophers and suggests that it influences the allegorical tale of Chaucer's Oxford Clerk.

495. TAYLOR, JEROME. "Frauceys Petrak and the Logyk of Chaucer's Clerk." In Francis Petrarch, Six Centuries Later: A Symposium. Edited by Aldo Scaglione. North Carolina Studies in the Romance Languages and Literature: Symposia, no. 3. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 1975, pp. 364-83.

Identifies the logical basis of Clerk's Tale as a Petrarchan interpretation of Aristotle--a humanistic application of logic--and reads the tale as the "substitution of a contrary" in response to the major premise of Wife of Bath's Tale.

496. USSERY, HULING. "Fourteenth-Century English Logicians: Possible Models for Chaucer's Clerk." Tennessee Studies in Literature 18 (1970):1-15.

Investigates the conditions of the study of logic in Chaucer's day, assessing his Clerk in light of this information and suggesting several possible real-life models for the character, notably Ralph Strode.

497. UTLEY, FRANCIS L. "Five Genres in the Clerk's Tale." Chaucer Review 6 (1972):198-228.

Elaborates the various genres that color Chaucer's Clerk's Tale, including drama, exemplum, fairy tale, novella, and allegory. Compares the tale to its analogues, and criticizes attempts to fit it into a single genre, reading it as a fusion of several genres.

See also entries 141, 154, 159, 208, 260, 319. For relations to other tales: 292, 324-28, 420, 563, 606.

Table of Contents

Previous Section: Canterbury Tales--The Summoner and his Tale

Next Section: Canterbury Tales--Merchant and his Tale