PARLIAMENT OF FOWLS                 

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


846. BENNETT, J.A.W. The "Parlement of Foules": An Interpretation. 2d ed. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1965, 217 pp.

Reads Chaucer's Parliament of Fowls as a unified exploration of Christian love, infused with Neoplatonic thought and imagery and inspired by the poetic tradition of Cicero, Macrobius, Alain de Lille, Jean de Meun, and Dante. Demonstrates the tight verbal structure and the allusiveness of the poem, identifying the poetic and philosophical traditions of its central themes and images, and explicating the importance of love to Chaucer's representations of social and cosmological order. Love, in the Parliament and its tradition, is the natural, binding force of the universe, even though man can only know this imperfectly.

847. BENSON, LARRY D. "The Occasion of the Parliament of Fowls." In The Wisdom of Poetry: Essays in Early English Literature in honor of Morton Bloomfield. Edited by Larry D. Benson and Siegfried Wenzel. Kalmazoo, Mich.: Medieval Institute Publications, 1982, pp. 123-44.

Reappraises the evidence for the occasion and date of Parliament of Fowls and argues that the poem was written for the 1380 negotiations of marriage between Richard and Anne of Bohemia. The political nature of the poem's Scipio section and its central concern with love and selection of a mate corroborate the occasion. New evidence suggests both that three suitors vied for Anne's hand, like the poem's three eagles, and that the internal astrological reference to Venus was possible in 1380.

848. BRADDY, HALDEEN. Chaucer's "Parlement of Foules" in Relation to Contemporary Events. 2d ed. New York: Octagon, 1969, 120 pp.

Interprets Parliament of Fowls historically, establishing the date of the poem as 1377 by internal astrological reference, and assessing the poem as a result of Chaucer's involvement in the negotiations for the marriage of young Richard and Princess Marie of France. Summarizes the contemporary political relations between England and France. The dissension among the birds reflects the actions of the Good and Bad Parliaments of 1376 and 1377, and the early dating suggests Chaucer wrote Parliament before House of Fame which reflects relatively less Italian influence.

849. BREWER, D[EREK] S. "Introduction." In Geoffrey Chaucer: "The Parlement of Foulys." Old and Middle English Texts. Manchester: Manchester University Press; New York: Barnes & Noble, 1972, pp. 1-64.

Introduces the major concerns necessary to a full understanding of Chaucer's Parliament of Fowls: its occasion, literary tradition, sources and background, rhetoric, language, meter, manuscripts, and themes. Particularly helpful are the discussions of rhetoric and mythology, and the thematic analysis of the poem as a delicate investigation of love and a structure "of opposites balanced if not entirely reconciled."

850. BRONSON, BERTRAND H. In Appreciation of Chaucer's "Parliament of Foules." University of California Publications in English, vol. 3, no. 5. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1935, 30 pp.

An early recognition of the structural and verbal irony of Parliament of Fowls, identifying the tensions between conventions of love-visions and Chaucer's use of them in the poem. Assesses the function of Africanus, the depiction of Venus, and the impossible astrology of the narrator's apostrophe to the goddess; regards the birds as "types of humanity" and the satiric focus of the poem as the "unreality of courtly love."

851. BROWN, EMERSON, Jr. "Priapus and the Parlement of Foulys." Studies in Philology 72 (1975):258-74.

The allusion to Priapus near the middle of Parliament of Fowls suggests that sensual love is neither wholly commendable nor condemnable. It is at least slightly ridiculous.

852. CAWLEY, A.C. "Chaucer's Valentine: The Parlement of Foules." In Chaucer's Mind and Art. Essays Old and New, no. 3. London: Oliver & Boyd, 1969, pp. 125-39.

Contrasts and parallels the framing dream of Scipio and the dreamer's vision of the garden in Parliament of Fowls to demonstrate the poem's coherent expression of "bewilderingly different kinds of love." The two dreams are linked by verbal echoes, their common theme of time, and their common source in Roman de la Rose.

853. COWGILL, BRUCE KENT. "The Parlement of Foules and the Body Politic." JEGP: Journal of English and Germanic Philology 74 (1975):315-35.

Explores the political allegory of the Parliament of Fowls, discussing the dominant opposition between common profit and social discord, the traditional value of Scipio as a wise temporal ruler, and the literary convention of representing the state as a garden. The poem suggests that a breakdown in natural law produces social discord.

854. ELDREDGE. LAURENCE. "Poetry and Philosophy in the Parlement of Foules." Revue de l'Universite d'Ottawa 40 (1970):441-59.

Uses the language of philosophy to explore the relation between Venus amd Nature in Parliament of Fowls, assessing Venus as a nominalistic representation of individual desire and Nature as a more encompassing, realistic depiction of concern for the common good. Does not argue that Parliament is a philosophical study, but that the philosophy of universals underlies the patterns of thought and imagery in Chaucer's poem.

855. JORDAN, ROBERT M. "The Question of Unity and the Parlement of Foules." English Studies in Canada 3 (1977):373-85.

Describes Parliament of Fowls structurally, identifying its "discontinuity and acentricity" of form, and denying that it has organic unity. Following medieval rather than modern principles, Parliament consists of "sharply articulated," various, and "loosely integrated" parts, which critics have unfortunately attempted to reconcile into unity.

856. KEARNEY, J.A. "The Parliament of Fowls: The Narrator, the 'Certyn Thyng,' and the 'Commune Profyt'." Theoria 45 (1975):55-71.

Articulates the "dynamic continuity of Love" in Parliament of Fowls, reading the poem's apparent tensions as evidence of the narrator's limited perception. Framed by the philosophy of Scipio, Nature's resolution to the love debate suggests that the plenitude of love is part of God's order.

857. LUMIANSKY, R.M. "Chaucer's Parlement of Foules: A Philosophical Interpretation." Review of English Studies 24 (1948):81-89.

Surveys criticism of Parliament of Fowls and interprets the poem as a unified expression of Chaucer's unsuccessful search for a way of reconciling true and false felicity. The poem fulfills the poet's immediate need for a love poem for St. Valentine's day and embodies his unfulfilled desire to justify love poetry and religious truth.

858. McCALL, JOHN P. "The Harmony of Chaucer's Parliament." Chaucer Review 5 (1970):22-31.

Explains how the various types of discord in Parliament of Fowls resolve into a "dynamic harmony" once we recognize that final reconciliation is heavenly, not earthly. The cacaphony of the birds, the duality of the garden, and the diversity of the catalogs harmonize in a manner reminiscent of Africanus's vision of the spheres.

859. McDONALD, CHARLES O. An Interpretation of Chaucer's Parlement of Foules." Speculum 30 (1955):444-57. Reprinted in Chaucer: Modern Essays in Criticism, ed. by Edward Wagenknecht (London: Oxford University Press, 1959), pp. 309-27; and Chaucer Criticism, Volume II: "Troilus and Criseyde" & The Minor Poems, ed. by Richard J. Schoeck and Jerome Taylor (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1961), pp. 275-93.

Shows how the theme of common profit and the figure of tolerant Nature bridge the opposing views of the high and low class birds in Parliament of Fowls. The realistic and idealistic attitudes of the birds are anticipated early in the poem by other contrastive pairs: the two sides of the gate, Priapus and Venus, etc.

860. OLSON, PAUL A. "The Parlement of Foules: Aristotle's Politics and the Foundations of Human Society." Studies in the Age of Chaucer 2 (1980):53-69.

Reads Parliament of Fowls as "a very great civic poem" which in its structure and images reflects the fourteenth-century parliament. "Common profit" and Christian charity are synonymous in the poem, based on a Christianized form of Aristotle's Politics, i.e., Giles of Rome's De Regimine Principium.

861. PELEN, MARC M. "Form and Meaning of the Old French Love Vision: The Fableau dou Dieu d'Amors and Chaucer's Parliament of Fowls." Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies 9 (1979):277-305.

Defines the characteristic structure, imagery, and themes of Old French love visions, and applies these generic features to the anonymous Fableau dou dieu d'amors and Chaucer's Parliament of Fowls. Chaucer follows the tripartite structure of the tradition (visionary setting, questing love debate, and Court of Love) and its humorous, ironic preference for spiritual rather than earthly love.

862. POLZELLA, MARION L. "'The Craft So Long to Lerne': Poet and Lover in Chaucer's Envoy to Scogan and Parliament of Fowls." Chaucer Review 10 (1976):279-86.

Traces the "complex analogy" between the activity love and the creativity of art in Envoy to Scogan and Parliament of Fowls, arguing that the poet affirms both love and poetry even though he is more concerned with describing love than with enacting it.

863. QUILLIGAN, MAUREEN. "Allegory, Allegoresis, and the Deallegorization of Language: The Roman de la Rose, the De Planctu Natura, and the Parlement of Foules." In Allegory, Myth, and Symbol. Edited by Morton W. Bloomfield. Harvard English Studies, no. 9. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1981, pp. 163-83.

Contrasts the literary modes of Chaucer's Parliament of Fowls and its sources, Jean de Meun's Roman de la Rose and Alain de Lille's De Planctu Natura, demonstrating how Chaucer's oral, dramatic presentation differs from their overt "textuality," and how his mimesis differs from their allegories even though he shares their concern with the analogy between writing and sexuality.

864. ROTHSCHILD, VICTORIA. "The Parliament of Fowls: Chaucer's Mirror up to Nature?" Review of English Studies 35 (1984):164-84.

Explores the numerological significance and astrological allegory of Parliament of Fowls, dating the poem by these means in 1384. Reads the poem as a celebration of the Boethian, Neoplatonic world view, ordered and governed by Divine Love, a hierarchy from the cosmic to the mundane in which the birds represent various classes of creatures. Suggests that this symbolic dimension inspired Edmund Spenser's emulation of the poem.

865. SMITH, FRANCIS J. "Mirth and Marriage in the Parlement of Foules." Ball State University Forum 14, no. 1 (1973):15-22.

Impressionistic reading of Parliament of Fowls which emphasizes its energy and humor and suggests that the discontinuities of the poem reflect the nature of dreams and the nature of love.

866. VON KREISLER, NICHOLAI. "The Locus Amoenus and Eschatological Love in the Parliament of Fowls, 204-10." Philological Quarterly 50 (1971):16-22.

Identifies the "reminiscence of popular eschatological literature" in the description of the park of love in Parliament of Fowls, associating it with the tradition of locus amoenus, and suggesting that it colors the "allegorical conception of love" in the poem.

See also entries 7-8, 47, 154, 157, 201, 214, 249, 806-10, 812. For style: 135, 137, 141; for date and occasion: 88, 221-22, 228; for literary relations: 167, 185, 192, 196, 225, 236, 802, 811.


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