Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-ttngx Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-05-24T17:54:30.551Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

5 - Chaucer: Troilus and Criseyde and The Canterbury Tales

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 July 2011

Michael O'Neill
Affiliation:
University of Durham
Get access

Summary

In Book ii of Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde, when Pandarus sets out for Criseyde’s house to persuade her to reciprocate Troilus’s love, the narrator declares: ‘Now Janus, god of entree, thow hym gyde!’ Janus, the Roman god of entrances and exits, was commonly depicted with two faces, one looking forward and one looking back, an image which is suggestive of the poetic technique of Geoffrey Chaucer. He is a poet who hovers on the threshold, glancing back at the landscape of his literary forebears, but looking determinedly forward into his own poetic House of Fame. Centuries later, when William Blake painted the Canterbury Pilgrims, he placed Chaucer, ‘the great poetical observer of men’, at the far right of the picture enclosed in the gothic archway of the Tabard Inn, about to set forth on the road ahead of him. Blake saw in The Canterbury Tales ‘characters which compose all ages and nations’; they represented the ‘physiognomies … of universal human life’. But in the fourteenth century Chaucer was venturing into new and potentially treacherous territory. He brought together characters and genres which had not shared the same poetic space before and he stretched the linguistic potential of the vernacular to its limits. Yet his apprenticeship for his role as ‘Father of English Poetry’, as Dryden was famously to dub him, began with dream visions in which he used contemporary dream theory such as Macrobius’s Commentary on the Dream of Scipio to explore what it meant to be an English poet.

Type
Chapter
Information
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2010

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

Kellogg, Laura D., Boccaccio’s and Chaucer’s Cressida (New York: Peter Lang, 1995).Google Scholar

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×