Chaucer and the City (Chaucer Studies) by Ardis Butterfield

By Ardis Butterfield

Literature of town and the town in literature are themes of significant modern curiosity. This quantity complements our figuring out of Chaucer's iconic position as a London poet, defining the trendy experience of London as a urban in background, steeped in its medieval earlier. development on contemporary paintings by way of historians on medieval London, in addition to sleek city thought, the essays deal with the centrality of the town in Chaucer's paintings, and of Chaucer to a literature and a language of town. participants discover the spatial quantity of town, imaginatively and geographically; the various and occasionally violent relationships among groups, and using language to spot and converse for groups; the worlds of trade, the aristocracy, legislations, and public order. a last part considers the longer historical past and reminiscence of the medieval urban past the devastations of the nice fireplace and into the Victorian interval. Dr ARDIS BUTTERFIELD is Reader in English at collage collage London. members: ARDIS BUTTERFIELD, MARION TURNER, RUTH EVANS, BARBARA NOLAN, CHRISTOPHER CANNON, DEREK PEARSALL, HELEN COOPER, C. DAVID BENSON, ELLIOT KENDALL, JOHN SCATTERGOOD, PAUL DAVIS, HELEN PHILLIPS

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The final two essays in the volume therefore take head on the issue of Chaucer, not as a figure from a single moment in the past, but as a poet in time, in history. Paul Davis and Helen Phillips take up this story of Chaucer and the City after the fire. The aim here is not to provide a comprehensive sense of Chaucer’s reputation after his death (this can be found elsewhere)45 but to choose two moments where Chaucer’s relationship with the city has a particularly resonant meaning for later London writers and readers.

In keeping with the recurring theme of this volume, each essay itself figures as an act of retrieval: a sifting through the ashes or the debris of citation to recover the image of a poet who has long gone yet still, through various processes of (at the time) only partially articulated historicism, surfaces to speak for that period’s sense of its own modernity. It is striking, then, how in both periods Chaucer is reinvented as a rural poet (although this is only part of the story for Dryden and Pope, who as Davis explains, are also reinventing a notion of urbanness to which Chaucer is subsequently reattached).

W. Robertson, Chaucer’s London (New York and London, 1968), pp. 221, 123, 124. Derek Pearsall, The Life of Geoffrey Chaucer: A Critical Biography (Oxford, 1992), p. 177. Baswell, ‘Aeneas in 1381’, p. 17. 32 Marion Turner Flanders, for example, reveals how bourgeois the matter of Troy could become in the 1380s (pp. 33–4). I suggest that Troilus and Criseyde is a bourgeois, urban poem as well as an aristocratic, courtly production. The poem deals with the negotiation between city and court and depicts a place in which urban and courtly interests jostle for precedence, just as they did in the London area.

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