Download e-book for iPad: A Distinction of Stories: The Medieval Unity of Chaucer's by Judson Boyce Allen

By Judson Boyce Allen

ISBN-10: 0814203108

ISBN-13: 9780814203101

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Additional resources for A Distinction of Stories: The Medieval Unity of Chaucer's Fair Chain of Narratives for Canterbury

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This rhetorical principle does not deny, of course, that legitimate in­ sight may be gained from comparing or contrasting the character of any given Canterbury pilgrim with an associated tale, or with any other pilgrim or tale. Whether positively or ironically, such an analogy can have a good deal of medieval force and significance; many such analogies will be dealt with in part 2. The undoubted practical success of some modern criticism which presumes the dramatic principle traces to this medieval practice of multiple exemplifica­ tion; comparisons between teller and tale are informative as comparisons, even when our motivation for making them is nonmedieval.

If there is a relationship here, it is a relationship between opposites. 61 If there is a significant relation, it arises out of the fact that the four-level system of biblical meaning defines, in general terms, a semiotic array of the ways in which a given text or deed or word may be meaningful. In practice the exegetes found meanings which were Christian in content, as of course they should. 62 Thus a given story may illustrate some abstract universal, such as justice; it may inspire us to some specific moral act; or it may be, in addition to an actual report of an event, a text which we may receive epideictically as symbol or myth.

It is an analogy which is only possible for us because the medieval text of Ovid survived with commentary. 44 Some things must therefore be merely asserted here, in confidence that they have been proved elsewhere. 45 With regard to the strategy of classification of metamorphoses, in terms of which Ovid commentary is specifically relevant to Chaucer, we are necessarily concerned with full detail, and so we quote from manuscripts as well as from edited commentary texts. To be con­ vinced that this commentary material would have been unavoidable, one has only to look randomly at any dozen manuscripts of the Metamorphoses early enough to have been used by Chaucer.

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A Distinction of Stories: The Medieval Unity of Chaucer's Fair Chain of Narratives for Canterbury by Judson Boyce Allen


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