The Oxford Companion to Chaucer (Oxford Companions)

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9780198117650: The Oxford Companion to Chaucer (Oxford Companions)

With over 2,000 entries from an international team of scholars, this new Oxford Companion provides a wealth of clear, up-to-date assessments on all aspects of Chaucer. Entries, both short and long, from "Aaron" to "Zodiac," provide information on Chaucer's life and times, his works and the characteristics in them, his language and meter, his reading and the creative uses he made of it, and on his major moral and literary themes. Extensive reference is also made to the development of critical opinion about his works over the centuries. Complete with a chronology, a note to readers, illustrations, and extensive cross-referencing, this is a fascinating, practical guide to readers of Chaucer at every level.

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About the Author:


Douglas Gray is J. R. R. Tolkien Professor of English Literature and Language Emeritus at the University of Oxford.

From Booklist:

Like many of the volumes in the Oxford Companion series, this work is an invaluable guide--in this case, to the life, times, and work of Geoffrey Chaucer, the Middle English poet who gave us The Canterbury Tales and Troilus and Criseyde.

The stated goal of this work is to "help readers and students in the understandinzg" of the poet's works. It does so through more than 2,000 alphabetically listed entries on the life, family, friends, works, characters, and sources of Chaucer. Beyond this, there are some contextual entries dealing with other contemporaneous European writers, Chaucer's verse, and his prevalent themes and topics.

The entry on The Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale demonstrates the volume's utility for both general reader and specialist. It opens with an analysis of the Prologue ("a confessional monologue") and follows with an overview of both the prologue and the Tale. For literary scholars, there are also some manuscript notes ("the first contribution in Fragment III"). For those interested in learning more, there is a cross-referenced entry from Fragments to the entry on The Canterbury Tales that details the 10 extant fragments of the Ellesmere manuscript. The entry on the Ellesmere Manuscript tells us that this is "the most famous and most elegant" of the surviving manuscripts--of which there are relatively many, attesting to the popularity of the Tales.

Each entry usually has a brief (and in the case of the works, selective) list of further reading. The volume begins with a list of "the most substantial topical entries" (for example, Clothes, London, Rhetoric), a chronology, and maps and ends with an extensive bibliography. For all students of Chaucer, this is a worthy addition to their libraries. Academic and large public libraries will want to have it. RBB
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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