Earnest Exuberance in Chaucer's Poetics Textual Games in the Canterbury Tales

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This study provides a closer reading of Chaucer's text than has ever been done before. The emphasis is on the palimpsestic nature of Chaucer's work, providing something largely missing in Chaucer scholarship, a concern with the intertextuality between different parts of the Tales. It argues for organic unity, and attempts to settle several questions such as: the extent of sentence (i.e. morally-religiously redeeming elements) in the fabliaux of the Miller's and the Merchant's Tales; the question of the Pardoner's sexual nature; the question of anti-Semitism in the Prioress' Tale; and how Chaucer felt about the doctrines as well as the practices of the Church, especially with regard to gender issues. It also examines Chaucer's ironic use of gender-crossing and literary allusion.


"The close readings are welcome examinations of often misunderstood and more often overlooked passages. His extended, commentary-like analysis of major portions of the Miller's Tale, the Pardoner's Tale, the Clerk's Tale, and the Merchant's Tale contain perceptive readings that are guaranteed to stir the imagination, if not a little controversy at the same time, because his rejection of one accepted interpretation after another leaves many critical bodies in the wake. . . . his arguments are well-honed and convincing. . . . This book is an important complement to, and sometimes corrective of, Ross's, Lindahl's, and Kendrick's works, as well as a useful supplement to the detailed analyses of the Variorum Chaucer." - Michael N. Salda

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