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Lordinges, herkneth to me tale! Is merier thann the nightingale, That I schel singe; Of a knight ich wile yow roune, Beves a highte of Hamtoune, Withouten.

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Presentation on theme: "Lordinges, herkneth to me tale! Is merier thann the nightingale, That I schel singe; Of a knight ich wile yow roune, Beves a highte of Hamtoune, Withouten."— Presentation transcript:

1 Lordinges, herkneth to me tale! Is merier thann the nightingale, That I schel singe; Of a knight ich wile yow roune, Beves a highte of Hamtoune, Withouten lesing. Ich wile yow tellen al togadre Of that knight and of is fadre, Sire Gii. Of Hamtoun he was sire And of al that ilche schire, To wardi. Lordinges, this, of whan I telle, Never man of flesch ne felle Nas so strong. And so he was in ech strive. And ever he levede withouten wive, Al to late and long. The opening lines of Bevis of Hampton (6MSS, 1 fragment, 1 prints c. 1324)

2 Hende in halle and ye wole her Off eldres that before us wer That lyfede in are thede. Jhesu Cryst, hevene kynge, Geve hem alle hys blessyng And hevene unto oure mede. I wold yow telle off a knyght That was bothe hardy and wyght And doughty man of dede. Hys name was callyd Sere Ysumbras; So doughty a knyght as he was There levyd non in lede. He was mekil man and long With armes grete and body strong And fair was to se. He was long man and heygh, The fayreste that evere man seygh; A gret lord was he. Menstralles he lovyd wel in halle And gaf hem ryche robes withalle, Bothe golde and fe. Off curteysye he was kyng And of his mete never nothyng In worlde was non so free. The opening lines of Sir Isumbras (9MSS, 5 prints; )

3 Melibee—lines of descent Albertanus of Brescia Liber de consolationis et consilii (1246) Renaud de Louens Livre de Melibee et de Dame Prudence (after 1336) ChaucerAnon. Tale of Melibee ( ?) Menagier de Paris ( )

4 Will defends his “makings”—Piers Plowman B "I am Ymaginatif,' quod he, "ydel was I nevere, Though I sitte by myself, in siknesse nor in helthe. I have folwed thee, in feith, thise fyve and fourty winter, And manye tymes have meved thee to mynne on thyn ende, And how fele fernyeres are faren, and so fewe to come: And of thi wilde wantownesse whan thow yong were, To amende it in thi myddel age, lest myght the faille In thyn olde elde, that yvele kan suffre Poverte or penaunce, or preyeres bidde: Si non in prima vigilia nec in secunda &c. "Amende thee while thow myght; thow hast ben warned ofte With poustees of pestilences, with poverte and with angres-- And with thise bittre baleises God beteth his deere children: Quem diligo, castigo. And David in the Sauter seith, of swiche that loveth Jesus, ‘ Virga tua et baculus tuus, ipsa me consolata sunt. Although thow strike me with thi staf, with stikke or with yerde, It is but murthe as for me to amende my soule.’ And thow medlest thee with makynges--and myghtest go seye thi Sauter, And bidde for hem that yyveth thee breed; for ther are bokes ynowe To telle men what Dowel is, Dobet and Dobest bothe, And prechours to preve what it is, of many a peire freres.'

5 Will defends his “makings”—Piers Plowman B (cont.) I seigh wel he seide me sooth and, somwhat me to excuse, Seide, "Caton conforted his sone that, clerk though he were, To solacen hym som tyme--as I do whan I make: Interpone tuis interdum gaudia curis. "And of holy men I herde,” quod I, "how thei outherwhile Pleyden, the parfiter to ben, in places manye. Ac if ther were any wight that wolde me telle What were Dowel and Dobet and Dobest at the laste, Wolde I nevere do werk, but wende to holi chirche And there bidde my bedes but whan ich ete or slepe.”

6 Lee Patterson, "’What Man Artow?': Authorial Self-Definition in The Tale of Sir Thopas and The Tale of Melibee," Studies in the Age of Chaucer 11 (1989) …Chaucer’s alienation from the aristocratic world is staged twice in the two opening movements of the Tales: first in the explicitly political opposition with which the Miller confronts the Knight, and then in the more narrowly literary controversy staged among the Man of Law, the Parson, and the Wife of Bath. This controversy articulates issues that remain at the center of Chaucer's sense of his own authorial identity, for it witnesses to his desire to find a mode of writing that will avoid the interpretive preeemptions of both aristocratic self- legitimization and religious exegesis.

7 Lee Patterson, "’What Man Artow?': Authorial Self-Definition in The Tale of Sir Thopas and The Tale of Melibee," Studies in the Age of Chaucer 11 (1989) As a literary performance, then, The Tale of Sir Thopas stages virtually every criticism that literary orthodoxy could have levelled against the Chaucer of the Canterbury Tales… [it] reveals the poet to be a minstrel-like tale-teller who has abandoned both courtly "makyng" and the responsibilities of a political adviser to indulge instead a penchant for vaguely erotic daydreams, a dabbler who habitually leaves his ambitious projects unfinished, a bourgeois who celebrates a chivalric heroism he is unabvle to understand, and a ventriloquist who dresses up in other people's identities. He is, in sum, a frivolous player of literary games who, as Harry Bailly says, “’doost noght elles but despendest tyme’.” (132) If Thopas represents a rejection of the role of courtly “maker,” the rejection can be imagined only in terms of the even less appropriate identity of the mistrel. It is the positive that is missing from this picture, a social identity commensurate with Chaucer's literary practice: he is the originator of a national literature in a culture that lacks both the concept of literature and a social identity for those who produce it. Lacking a recognizable role within the social whole, Chaucer is obliged to locate himself outside it. (135)

8 Lee Patterson, "’What Man Artow?': Authorial Self-Definition in The Tale of Sir Thopas and The Tale of Melibee," Studies in the Age of Chaucer 11 (1989) Sir Thopas and Melibee offer two different definitions of writing as a social institution; and if Sir Thopas represents at least a parodic version of values central to The Canterbury Tales, as I have argued, in the last analysis neither tale represents a literary practice with which Chaucer can fully identify himself. In one case he is the minstrel who provides the court with entertainment that ratifies its social identity; in another an adviser to princes through whom speaks the traditional discourse of counsel. In neither case is the prescribed role adequate to the kind of poetry Chaucer is engaged in writing, as he himself makes clear. His exasperation with courtly canons of reception is evident in the Prologue to The Legend of Good Women and is restaged in the conjunction of the tales told by the Man of Law and the Wife of Bath; and despite the efforts of literalistic interpreters, his poetry can be satisfactorily accommodated to the requirements of neither topicality nor indoctrination. (173) Chaucer quite self-consciously writes what we have come to call "literature": a discourse that insists upon its autonomy from both ideological programs and social appropriations. Whether such a discourse is ever finally possible is not here at issue; the idea of the literary--of the aesthetic--has played a central role in the articulation of Western civilization, and with Chaucer we witness its entrance into English culture. (173)


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