Chaucer and the Subject of History
In this book, one of the world's leading medievalists provides us with a single vision of the shape and direction of Geoffrey Chaucer's entire career ... Show synopsis In this book, one of the world's leading medievalists provides us with a single vision of the shape and direction of Geoffrey Chaucer's entire career. Chaucer's interest in individuality was strikingly modern. At the same time he was profoundly aware of the pressures on individuality exerted by the past and by society - by history. It is this tension between the subject and history that Patterson explores. The book begins by showing how Chaucer's understanding of history as a subject for poetry - a world to be represented and a cultural force affecting human action - began to take shape in his poems on classical themes, "Anelida and Arcite" and "Troilus and Crisyede" . Patterson's brilliant analyses of these profound yet deeply conflicted explorations of the relationship between "history" and "the self" provide the basis for understanding Chaucer's shift to his contemporary world in the "Canterbury Tales". There, in the shrewdest and most wide-ranging analysis of late medieval society we possess, Chaucer investigated not just the idea of history but the historical world intimately related to his own political and literary career. This book should be of interest to students and lecturers of medieval literature and history.