Chaucer's Canterbury Comedies: Origins and Originality

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9781603810913: Chaucer's Canterbury Comedies: Origins and Originality

The written and spoken voice of Peter G. Beidler is well-known to scholars interested in Geoffrey Chaucer's comic tales. In this gathering of essays old and new, Beidler articulates his views on the literary relationships of Chaucer s most widely-read and often-taught tales those of the Miller, the Wife of Bath, the Shipman, the Merchant, and the Pardoner. He discusses in clear language not only the most likely sources for these tales their origins but also the many changes Chaucer made in transforming them in accordance with his own purposes their originality. He explicates key passages to show what a deliberate literary artist Chaucer was. The Foreword by Holly A. Crocker will help readers connect the strands that unify Beidler's approach to the bawdy/body tales he discusses in Chaucer's Canterbury Comedies.

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About the Author:

PETER G. BEIDLER is the Lucy G. Moses Distinguished Professor of English, emeritus, at Lehigh University. In a his long career, he has published more often in the Chaucer Review than any other scholar. He is the author of The Wife of Bath in the Bedford Case Studies in Contemporary Criticism series, Masculinities in Chaucer, and some twenty other books on various literary and pedagogical subjects. He was a Fulbright professor at Sichuan University in mainland China and as the Robert Foster Cherry Professor at Baylor University in Texas. The winner of several teaching awards, he was named national Professor of the Year in 1983 by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education and the Carnegie Foundation. He now lives in Seattle, Washington.

Review:

"There is no more important living Chaucer critic than Peter G. Beidler. Everyone who has taught, written about, or even studied the Canterbury Tales in a scholarly way knows his work and has benefited from it. Before other critics dared to take Chaucer's fabliaux and other comedies seriously, Beidler showed that they rewarded close analysis, and his effect on the course of Chaucerian scholarship is hard to overstate. Now, in Chaucer's Canterbury Comedies: Origins and Originality, he draws together twenty of his most influential essays with new (and very handy) headnotes that outline the context and main points of each.

"The essays themselves exemplify the energy, creativity, humor, and good sense that have always marked Beidler's work. Many have noted his talent for close reading, and the riches he has revealed through this technique are myriad in this volume. Only Beidler would ask what a foot-mantle is and then embark upon a quest worthy of medieval romance to discover, among other things, that the Wife of Bath may not have large hips after all, but that the word large could easily refer to the fit of her leggings. And only Beidler would set out to reconcile the wildly disparate assumptions on the worth of the 100 French francs that the monk of St. Denis in the Shipman's Tale pays for the wife s favors. While an earlier critic did bother to ask whether Damian in the Merchant's Tale reaches a climax in the pear tree with May, only Beidler, in apologizing for the aggressive tone with which he disagreed with the critic's conclusions, could say, 'I shot off this refutation ....'

"Beidler's light, unpretentious tone renders his scholarship as accessible to our students as its solid argument renders it persuasive to professionals. This volume will therefore be welcomed by Chaucer teachers, who will want to recommend it to their students and use it in lesson plans. For many years, Beidler has illuminated areas we did not even notice were dark. Now he has performed an invaluable service by drawing together many of his most important insights in a single, affordable volume. Every Chaucerian will want Chaucer's Canterbury Comedies on her bookshelf."

--Leigh Smith, East Stroudsburg University

"Chaucer's Canterbury Comedies gathers together some of Peter G. Beidler's most well known arguments about the intersections of the writings of Geoffrey Chaucer, John Gower, and Giovanni Boccaccio. But Beidler's book also does so much more. As the brief narratives that introduce each essay make clear, this volume assembles writings that cover a lifetime, the career of a medievalist. As such, Chaucer's Canterbury Comedies enable us to catch a glimpse of the thought processes of a medievalist whose dramatic performances at conferences and in his classroom have captivated at least two generations of Chaucerians. In this volume Beidler answers questions that readers of Chaucer may have wondered over but never had the chance to pursue: Can Chaucer's tales be rendered into dramatic skits? What is the Wife of Bath's foot-mantle? Are there alternative ways of punctuating Chaucer's tales than what the editors offer? How much did the work of John Gower and Giovanni Boccaccio affect Geoffrey Chaucer's creative imagination? Since the 1970s, Beidler has introduced us to these enduring questions, and now with these essays--some reprinted, some new--Beidler provides readers with the answers. The work of a scholar who has made it a goal of his lifetime to assemble clearly his complicated ideas, Chaucer's Canterbury Comedies distills complex points in readable, and sometimes colloquial, prose. Ever the comedian, Beidler loves Chaucer for being funny, and the essays in this volume immortalize his deep affection for a medieval poet who sought to add a little humor to the world."

--Miriamne Ara Krummel, University of Dayton

"Chaucer's Canterbury Comedies: Origins and Originality collects in a single, accessible volume almost four decades of interior dialogue between the master-teacher and the master scholar inhabiting Peter G. Beidler. His (twinkling) eye sees the overlooked detail, the clue that provides persuasive answers to the common-sense questions we have asked ourselves and then brushed aside in our recent stampede to theorize complexly. Yet these puzzles precisely drive our students' curiosity, and Beidler, in essay after essay--most reprinted with slight changes, some written fresh for this compendium--never lets them down, nor loses us in the process. Reading through these pages is a profound reminder of the importance of Beidler's intelligent, learned voice to contemporary Chaucer and Gower studies, as well as a full immersion in the joy of the scholarly life."

--R. F. Yeager, University of West Florida

"Beidler's compelling, interdisciplinary, close analysis is invaluable for students, teachers, and scholars seeking to look with a fresh eye at the originality of Chaucer's adaptations and revisions of his sources.

"Beidler's close reading of Chaucer's comedic narratives is as close as it gets: looking at scatology as a humorous, realistic aspect of Chaucer's artistry in the Miller's Tale; reconstructing the Wife of Bath's foot-mantle; finding out how much 100 francs might have been worth in 1385 to determine the worth of a night of pleasure with the merchant's wife in the Shipman's Tale; revisiting Damian's climactic copulation with May in the Merchant's Tale; re-examining references to the bubonic plague in the Pardoner's exemplum.

"The short lead-ins to each essay are not only inspirational, but they also give the book a delightfully refreshing voice."

--Gila Aloni, Societe des Anglicistes de l'Enseignement Superieur

"Chaucer's Canterbury Comedies brings together a comprehensive selection of Peter G. Beidler's works on the Canterbury Tales for an accessible and entertaining volume. The twenty essays collected here string together pearls of wisdom from more than forty years of Beidler's best, and at times controversial, works on the Canterbury Tales as comedic art. This volume captures both the humor of Chaucerian poetry and the hallmark humor of Pete Beidler. It is a must-read for scholars and students of Chaucer alike."

--Larissa Tracy, Longwood University

"Chaucer's Canterbury Comedies collects in one place many of Peter G. Beidler's most trenchant essays. Although never theoretically naive, Beidler's work has always emphasized the formulation of specific critical questions and the pursuit of similarly specific answers to whatever extent they are possible: Did Chaucer read the Decameron? What is a foot-mantle? What sources did Chaucer use for his poetry, and to what ends did he use them? How might we best resolve textual cruces in the Canterbury Tales? Refreshingly aware of the contingencies that shape his responses to such questions, Beidler here provides consistently insightful, useful, good answers to them. Even readers who feel they have not learned the answer to such issues will learn much from his essays, and all scholars are better off for the well-formed arguments he has contributed to their discussion."

--Tom Farrell, Stetson University

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Book Description Coffeetown Press. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. 328 pages. Dimensions: 9.0in. x 6.3in. x 1.3in.The written and spoken voice of Peter G. Beidler is well-known to scholars interested in Geoffrey Chaucers comic tales. In this gathering of essays old and new, Beidler articulates his views on the literary relationships of Chaucer s most widely-read and often-taught tales those of the Miller, the Wife of Bath, the Shipman, the Merchant, and the Pardoner. He discusses in clear language not only the most likely sources for these tales their origins but also the many changes Chaucer made in transforming them in accordance with his own purposes their originality. He explicates key passages to show what a deliberate literary artist Chaucer was. The Foreword by Holly A. Crocker will help readers connect the strands that unify Beidlers approach to the bawdybody tales he discusses in Chaucers Canterbury Comedies. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Hardcover. Bookseller Inventory # 9781603810913

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