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Literary Value and Social Identity in the Canterbury Tales

$108.00 (C)

Part of Cambridge Studies in Medieval Literature

  • Date Published: December 2019
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108485661

$ 108.00 (C)

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About the Authors
  • Literary authors, especially those with other occupations, must come to grips with the question of why they should write at all, when the world urges them to devote their time and energy to other pursuits. They must reach, at the very least, a provisional conclusion regarding the relation between the uncertain value of their literary efforts and the more immediate values of their non-authorial social identities. Geoffrey Chaucer, with his several middle-strata identities, grappled with this question in a remarkably searching, complex manner. In this book, Robert J. Meyer-Lee examines the multiform, dynamic meditation on the relation between literary value and social identity that Chaucer stitched into the heart of The Canterbury Tales. He traces the unfolding of this meditation through what he shows to be the tightly linked performances of Clerk, Merchant, Franklin and Squire, offering the first full-scale reading of this sequence.

    • The first reading of a sequence of four tales at the heart of The Canterbury Tales
    • Considers the concept of literary value in a novel fashion, elucidating the complexity of the concept as it enters into the creative process
    • Explores the implications that the conditions of The Canterbury Tales manuscripts have for principles of interpretation of the work, focusing particularly on the state of the earliest manuscripts and the limits on interpretation that they suggest
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    Reviews & endorsements

    ‘… his insights will no doubt prompt worthwhile discussion among Chaucer scholars.’ S. Downey, Choice

    ‘Literary Value and Social Identity in the Canterbury Tales will be of immediate and lasting interest to scholars of Chaucer and to readers of Middle English literature more broadly.’ David K. Coley, Studies in the Age of Chaucer

    ‘Robert Meyer-Lee’s new monograph, Literary Value and Social Identity in the ‘Canterbury Tales’ is a masterclass in literary criticism. It offers not only new interpretations of the Tales but a canny elucidation of the reasoning underlying its own readings.’ Julie Orlemanski, Modern Philology

    ‘Meyer-Lee’s masterful attention to tone and voice … showcases Chaucer’s language in action …’ Laura L. Howes, Journal of British Studies

    ‘… crisp and clear …’ Chad Schrock, Modern Language Review

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    Product details

    • Date Published: December 2019
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108485661
    • length: 296 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 159 x 22 mm
    • weight: 0.55kg
    • contains: 1 table
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: The Canterbury Tales IV-V and literary value
    1. Clerk
    2. Merchant
    3. Squire
    4. Franklin
    Works cited

  • Author

    Robert J. Meyer-Lee, Agnes Scott College, Decatur
    Robert J. Meyer-Lee is Associate Professor of English at Agnes Scott College. He is author of Poets and Power from Chaucer to Wyatt (Cambridge, 2007) as well as numerous articles on Chaucer, fifteenth-century poetry, and literary value published in journals such as Speculum, Studies in the Age of Chaucer, New Literary History, The Chaucer Review, JEGP, and Exemplaria.

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