• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Chaucer's Models of Authorship and his Anxiety of Influence in the Prologue to the 'Legend of Good Women.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Chaucer's Models of Authorship and his Anxiety of Influence in the Prologue to the 'Legend of Good Women. There is no doubt that Sir Geoffrey Chaucer placed immense value upon the integrity and accuracy of his work. This is clearly evident in the poem, 'Chaucers Wordes Unto Adam, his Owne Scriveyn', where he reprimands his scribe Adam for his negligence and over zealousness in copying texts he has given him. 'But after my makyng thow wryte more trewe, So ofte adaye I mot thy werk renewe, It to correct and eke to rubbe and scrape, And al is thorugh thy negligence and rape.' (Chaucer, 'Adam' 4-7) It is a short, yet passionate poem as it succinctly illustrates the intense ferocity Chaucer felt toward Adam for altering his creations; as demonstrated when he calls down a plague upon poor Adam's head! Chaucer's preoccupation with the transmission of texts that are of quality and 'trewe' spills over into another of his works, prologue to Legend of Good Women [G Text], in which he examines the whole concept of his responsibility as an author in a more holistic fashion. This essay seeks to discuss how Chaucer felt about his accountability as an author, translator and mediator of texts and the influences that fashioned his subjectivity as a writer. It also seeks to explore the anxiety that Chaucer displays in the prologue as to his justification as an author and his realisation of the influence that his subjectivity would have in the future on his readership. ...read more.

Middle

The comparison of poetry to flowers in the opening of the prologue to Legend is reminiscent of many works in Greek classical writings; even the word 'anthology' comes from Greek meaning, 'a gathering of flowers', which is essentially what Chaucer strives to do in the Legend of Good Women. Chaucer makes constant references to these 'olde bookes' in the prologue as if to show that his transparent parroting of these old works gives him authority as an author. In The Parliament of Fowles, Chaucer again gives a testimonial to these 'olde bookes', in a manner exceedingly similar to that in the prologue: 'For out of olde feldes, as men seyth, Cometh al this newe corn fro yer to yere; And out of olde bokes, in good feyth, Cometh al this newe science that men lere.' (Chaucer, PF 22-25) The Parliament of Fowles possess a parallel dream vision sequence to the prologue to the Legend of Good Women, in which the speaker experiences a fantastical dream and when awakes proceeds to document the story, and also again uses this metaphor of the book as something out of which nourishment grows. This resonates strongly with the image of Chaucer's stories as ears of corn in the prologue, what appears transparently is that Chaucer sees his work as the product of his new ideas of these 'bokes olde'; this process will now continue as new readers and authors will grow their new ideas from the 'olde feldes' that he has helped plough and sustain. ...read more.

Conclusion

(LGW 403-404). He intrusively comments on his functions and ultimately his main objective is in praise of the English vernacular itself; to reveal it and proliferate its literary use. By the end of the prologue, Chaucer seems to have reached a resolution on his anxieties over his influences and responsibilities as an author. Disparaged by the God of Love, and defended by Alceste, in an act of unintentional parroting the speaker in the poem awakes to immediately pen the dream vision that he has just had, thereby continuing the tradition of imitation and unwitting plagiarism. And with that word, of slep I gan awake, And right thus on my Legende gan I make. (LGW 544-545) There is a tone of urgency in the final lines - he is obligated to commit these tales to pen and immediately sets about to execute this work. It is as if he feels that this task has been specifically set out for him to complete and he must do this 'labour' as he refers to it. Chaucer is comfortable as an author who mediates between texts, and 'is at once a reader, a translator, a critic and a producer of texts.' (Desmond 62). Using the physical image of the book, Chaucer is authorised as a writer; for he has read and digested them and is now ready to sow the grain of their contents for his readership to ingest. Chaucer's fear and anxiety of misrepresenting this information that he has gained is nullified by the end of the prologue as he realises that he is preserving old thinking and in doing so sustaining literature. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Geoffrey Chaucer section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Geoffrey Chaucer essays

  1. English society of Chaucer's time

    Apart from the worldly order but just as important was the church hierarchy. It, too, was a structure ordained by God (especially since everyone in the church was Roman Catholic in the hundreds of years before Martin Luther and the Reformation).

  2. How does his presentation compare to what is known of merchants in Chaucer's day ...

    The audience is made to wonder what it is that his wife could possibly have done to offend him so much. He describes his wife as "the worste that may be" showing us that he no longer thinks very fondly of her.

  1. Geoffrey Chaucer provides humor in many of the tales from Canterbury Tales.

    Chaucer inserts these humorous tales in an attempt to bestow upon the reader a message about life. Chaucer's jovial approach provides the reader with a message by showing how foolish a certain character acts. The author uses humor to convey messages without seriousness while providing comic relief for the tales with more serious messages and approaches.

  2. A sinister exploration of the nature of evil Discuss Chaucers poetic methods in ...

    The pardoner states in the prologue, in the form of a confession, that he preche of no thyng but for coveityse. The repetition of this ironic language along with the shocking imagery that is portrayed through his rhetorical question will I live in poverte willfully?

  1. The pardoners prologue and Tale show human nature to lack any redeeming virtues ...

    the old man gives the rioters the choice to choose good or sin * In the old man passage, he explains how he wants to die, calling it a 'grace' and how he has walked the earth for years, waiting for mother nature to take him * This could suggest

  2. According to what principles, and for what purposes, do Twentieth Century women-writers revise and ...

    In the novel, beastliness is overcome and rejected in its form as Uncle Philip, and embraced in the figure of Finn. Melanie ultimately rejects her own beastliness, her vanity, in her acceptance of Finn. The original tale promoted the redemptive power of women's love, compelling women toward the acceptance of

  1. With reference to lines 91-112 and 163-290, how are the rivals Nicholas and Absalon ...

    His behaviour is presented as 'jolif was and gay'. He sings with a high-pitched voice in a 'quinible', which is usually associated with female voices expressing his femininity. Much of his behaviour is suggested to be feminine in his vanity and his actions.

  2. Geoffrey Chaucer. Through the double narration it can be seen that the narrator ...

    With 30 pilgrims telling two tales each on their passage to Canterbury and two tales each on the return home, that totals to over a hundred tales. To recite these tales exactly as they were told is a near impossible promise- to fulfill it he must be writing notes of

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work