The Implications Of Middle English Alliterative Verse
. If he expands upon his sources, Chaucer adds commentary, not new action or more characters. The Manciple’s Tale permits so many lengthy digressions precisely because the storyline itself is so lean and straightforward. Inspired by Erich Auerbach, Holton’s formalist discussions are liable to include classics that we know but Chaucer didn’t, like Homer’s Odyssey, although she might well have drawn into consideration some of his fellow fourteenth-century English poets. On the one hand, Chaucer’s commitment to the ‘existents of his plotlines may reflect his steady push-back from Thomas Sabo Jewellery the allegory popularized by his great London contemporary William Langland. On the other, his investments in commentary and speech-making may represent his reaction to the bare, overly streamlined narratives of his friend John Gower in his Confessio Amantis.
The amount of speech-making varies greatly 15% of the text in the Man of Law’s Tale, 35% in the Knight’s Tale depending on the amount in his separate sources. Holton’s subsection ‘Complaint’, on complaint as a form of commentary generated by characters inside their own stories, provides valuable insights into Ovid’s legacy refracted through Boethius. As centerpiece of this book, the chapter ‘Rhetoric’ remind us of a rich tradition of Chaucerian criticism going back to John M. Manly’s 1926 British Academy lecture Chaucer and the Rhetoricians and carried forward admirably by James J. Murphy in studies such as Rhetoric in the Middle Ages (1974). Here the English poet’s practices are striking when compared to his Continental sources. Notwithstanding some showy references to Cicero, Chaucer absorbed these rhetorical techniques in a wholly unsystematic way from his French models and applied them in Thomas Sabo Charms a highly artificial, self-conscious strategy of presentation. Holton responds to Lee Patterson’s reading of the Knight’s Tale as ‘fragmented’ by devices such as referent and dinumeratio in order to show how these techniques were already present in his Italian source and serve to expose the contractedness of the made-up literary text no differently from Chaucer’s other adaptations. The subsection ‘Alliteration’ considers the interesting question of how Chaucer exploited the effects from Latin rhetoric while remaining alert to the implications of Middle English alliterative verse in contemporary works like Sir Garvain and the Green Knight. His alliteration remains ornate rather than structural, looking forward to the aureate style of the fifteenth century.
The final chapter ‘Figurative Language’ makes the surprising discovery that Chaucer, departing from his sources, was wary of metaphorical language and tended to avoid similes, especially the sort of extended epic similes offered by the Teseida. The English poet followed Ovid’s habit of clustering or ‘stacking’ similes for high-style descriptions of emotional suffering or Chaucer being Chaucer as a means of playful overkill. He prized his text’s smooth surface undisturbed by figurative language with open-ended meanings. Fond of the proverbial, Chaucer shows no inclination to complicated analogies looking forward to the show-off practices of the Metaphysical poets, whose literary ancestor was clearly Langland? Here again Chaucer evades comparison with Piers Plowman by avoiding the sorts of half-allegorical, half-metaphorical language that makes his great contemporary’s poetry so challenging, and so prone to religious and political appropriations.
Though hardly a poet given to mere ornamentation, Chaucer surpasses his great unac?knowledged authority Boccaccio as a self-reflexive writer who constantly draws attention to the artificial construction of the text placed before the reader indeed very much directing his work to readers, not listeners, with his rhetorical gestures. Here Holton’s limited selection of texts proves most unsatisfying. With the Filostra to as the known source, Troilus would have served beautifully for this analysis because of its textbook examples of rhetorical tricks: the stanza-long simile comparing the Trojan prince to Bayard the horse in Book I; the apostrophe to Criseyde’s empty house in Book V; the anaphora ratcheting up the emotions near the conclusion.