These thirteen essays by distinguished Chaucerians deal with the most neglected genre of the 'Canterbury Tales', the religious tales. Although the prose works are also discussed, the primary focus of the volume is on Chaucer's four poems in rhyme royal: the 'Clerk's Tale', the 'Man of Law's Tale', the 'Second Nun's Tale' and the 'Prioress's Tale'. Almost all of Chaucer's tales are religious in some sense, but these four works deal specifically and deeply with faith and spiritual transcendence. They appeal to qualities, such as pathos, not now in critical fashion, but at the same time they seem extraordinarily contemporary in their special interest in women and feminist issues. The time is appropriate to recognise their importance in Chaucer's canon, for he is a religious poet as surely as he is a poet of comedy and secular love. These essays survey past criticism on the religious tales and offer new approaches.Contributors: C.DAVID BENSON, ELIZABETH ROBINSON, DEREK PEARSALL, BARBARA NOLAN, ROBERT WORTH FRANK, LINDA GEORGIANNA, CHARLOTTE C. MORSEA.S.G. EDWARDS, CAROLYN COLETTE, ELIZABETH D. KIRK, GEORGE R. KEISER, JANE COWGILL.
Part 1 General Esays: Chaucer's religious tales - a question of genre, Derek Pearsall; Chaucer's tales of transcendence - rhyme royal and Christian prayer in the "Canterbury Tales", Barbara Nolan; pathos in Chaucer's religious tales, Robert Worth Frank Jr. Part 2 Reception: the Protestant Chaucer, Linda Georgianna; critical approaches to the "Clerk's Tale", Charlotte C. Morse; critical approaches to the "Man of Law's Tale", A.S.G. Edwards; critical approaches to the "Prioress's Tale" and the "Second Nun's Tale", Carolyn Collette. Part 3 Essays in criticism: nominalism and the dynamics of the "Clerk's Tale" - "Homo Viator" as woman, Elizabeth D. Kirk; the spiritual heroism of Chaucer's custance, George R. Keiser; poetic variety in the "Man of Law's Tale" and the "Clerk's Tale", C. David Benson; aspects of female piety in the "Prioress's Tale", Elizabeth Robertson; the "Second Nun's Tale", John C. Hirsh; patterns of feminine and masculine persuasion in the "Melibee" and the "Parson's Tale", Jane Cowgill.
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