Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-2pzkn Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-05-27T02:57:11.660Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

1 - Chaucer Joins the Schiera: The House of Fame, Italy and the Determination of Posterity

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 May 2021

Isabel Davis
Affiliation:
Senior Lecturer in Medieval Literature at Birkbeck, University of London
Catherine Nall
Affiliation:
Senior Lecturer in Medieval Literature at Royal Holloway, University of London
Get access

Summary

The House of Fame dramatizes Chaucer's interaction with trecento conceptions of the role and the function of the poet, as a number of commentators have shown. This chapter will explore the nature of Chaucer's response to these conceptions, or re-conceptions (of classical ideas), but will also suggest the way in which The House of Fame forms a discursive continuum with The Clerk's Prologue and the conclusion to Troilus and Criseyde – that is, how together they constitute an intertextual discourse on poetic claritas and fama. These works present us with Chaucer's conversations, if you will, with two models of humanism – one of which is Dantean, the other Petrarchan. Crucially, this continuum confirms Chaucer's recognition that there is a debate concerning humanism and fame in trecento Italy, which arose out of what Robin Kirkpatrick has termed ‘the wake of the Commedia’. Chaucer acknowledges two models of poetic fame, the one of ‘the grete poete of Ytaille / That highte Dant’, as he is described in the Monk's Tale (lines 2460–1), the other of ‘Fraunceys Petrak, the lauriat poete … whos retorike sweete / Enlumyned al Ytaille of poetrie’ (Clerk's Prologue, lines 31–3).

One might be forgiven for thinking that Chaucer is being fickle in his poetic affections, seeming to shift allegiance from Dante to Petrarch, but if one looks at what the Monk and the Clerk actually say (not to mention what they actually do and represent as a monk and a clerk per se), then there is an obvious distinction between Chaucer's conception of Petrarch's fama/ claritas and his conception of Dante’s. These formulations of fame constitute two different poetical and political perspectives. Ultimately, Chaucer's conception of poetic renown is informed by both of these figures – and the antique models of fama, gloria and claritas which stand behind them – synthesizing their views into a discourse upon fame which will determine his own posterity.

As I see it, it is best to clarify this conceptual distinction first. Dante, for Chaucer, is ‘the grete poete of Ytaille’, and that genitive is important, as Dante is the poet of vernacular eloquence, the parlar materno as it was spoken by Italians (or Tuscans, at least).

Type
Chapter
Information
Chaucer and Fame
Reputation and Reception
, pp. 21 - 42
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2015

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.)

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
×