Chaucer's and Spenser's Reflexive Narrators

Judith H. Anderson

in Reading the Allegorical Intertext

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print May 2008 | ISBN: 9780823228478
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823241125 | DOI:
Chaucer's and Spenser's Reflexive Narrators

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Tales of Sir Thopas and Melibee represents the poet Chaucer, and these tales reflect the poet's craft and the kind of poetry he writes. Spenser understood Chaucer's self-representations in terms of large, symbolic patterns of The Faerie Queene. He aligned Sir Thopas and Melibee consistently with the pleasure principle with its harsh price. Spenser's name never appears explicitly within his poetry or within his English poetry. His narrator becomes the socially contextualized speaker of the Proems and self-citational figure whose word not only recalls earlier passages of The Faerie Queene but also his shorter poems. Like Chaucer, Spenser also deployed symbolic valences in connection with his own identity as a poet. Spenser's memories of Sir Thopas and Melibee provide background and motivation for the relation of his poetic identity to the other major locus of Chaucerian self-depiction. But in the Prologue he expresses an illogical or ambiguous relation between one aspect of human behavior or appearance.

Keywords: Chaucer; Sir Thopas; Melibee; poet; symbolic pattern; Spenser; Proems; poetry; The Faerie Queene

Chapter.  6188 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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