Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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Contents

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p. ix

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xii

It is a pleasure to thank those people and institutions who have provided me with help and advice in the process of writing this book: Geoffrey Bird, Brenda Carter, Valerie Edden, A. S. G. Edwards, Julia Fitzsimmons, Warwick Gould, Anne McDermott, John McDermott, Joanna Porter, Terence Porter, Anne Running, Tessa Sidey, Stan Smith, Michael Spender, Yvonne Truscott...

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Introduction

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pp. xiii-xiv

This book is an attempt to trace Chaucer's various manifestations in modern culture outside the academic arena. My concentration on the twentieth century represents the first occasion that the relevant material has been treated in any sustained manner, since although much has been written on different aspects of Chaucer's reception in later historical periods...

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1. Kelmscott Chaucer

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pp. 1-16

The most celebrated Chaucerian product of the nineteenth century is also, it has been argued, one of the least typical: Derek Brewer has spoken of the "isolation" of the Kelmscott Chaucer, and of how the "Romantic medievalising" it signifies is at odds with the predominant interest in Chaucer's humor and realism that characterizes Victorian responses.1 William S....

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2. Popular Chaucer

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pp. 17-31

In the opening chapter we looked at the gentleman-aesthete profile attached to Chaucer in the Pre-Raphaelite response to him and at the resulting Kelmscott volume that only his modern equivalent might indeed be able to afford, but we now turn to a consideration of Chaucer's broader currency outside the academy in the modern period and to more popular images...

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3. Spoken Chaucer

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pp. 32-45

Several issues raised in the first two chapters come together in discussing W. B. Yeats's response to Chaucer, a response stimulated by his acquisition of the Kelmscott Chaucer in 1905. The volume, however, took Yeats in a direction contrary to Morris's own, wherein he acclaimed Chaucer as the model of a poet speaking directly to his audience in a populist vein,...

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4. Children's Chaucer

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pp. 46-57

The golden age of editions of Chaucer aimed at children is the first decade and a half of the twentieth century: between 1903 and 1914, selections from the Canterbury Tales retold for children by various authors appear practically at the rate of one a year, with many of these reissued in the 19203 and 19305, after which there is a marked decline in their frequency. In...

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5. English Chaucer

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pp. 58-79

At points in chapter 2 we touched on the idea, common to several writers, that Chaucer and his works are an embodiment and even prototype of "Englishness," a theme that is pervasive enough in the popularizing dissemination of Chaucer to warrant a chapter by itself. The period when this nationalistic interest in him is most evident runs from later Victorian times to...

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6. Writers' Chaucer

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pp. 80-97

Although most of the material considered thus far has received very little attention from critics and scholars, the same cannot be said about the question of Chaucer's influence on modern canonical writers. In this chapter, we shall review the critical industry that has attempted to establish this influence, an industry headed not so much by Chaucer scholars but by those...

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7. Translated Chaucer

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pp. 98-120

Translations of Chaucer constitute, of course, one of the main channels for the wider dissemination of his work outside the academy, though the fact that no major authors in the twentieth century have put their hand to translating that work arguably signals once more the rather limited engagement with Chaucer that characterizes modern literature. In earlier periods...

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8. Performance Chaucer

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pp. 121-140

Although the translators whose work we looked at in the previous chapter are obviously bidding for a wider audience for Chaucer, it is via modern media like radio and television that such an audience is most instantly reached. As we have seen, Coghill's translation originated in a BBC radio commission in 1946, and it was Coghill who led the way in the genre of performance...

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9. Novel Chaucer

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pp. 141-152

The historical novel that centers on Chaucer's life or times is arguably a more ephemeral and obscure discourse than any considered hitherto in this book, and the fact that such works are rarely if ever reprinted perhaps testifies to the difficulty of writing Chaucer as the standard novelistic hero, as we shall see. On the other hand, novels in which Chaucer is a more marginal...

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10. Concluding Chaucer

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pp. 153-166

In Hugh Holman's murder mystery Up This Crooked Way (1946), its title taken from the "Pardoner's Tale" (V1.761), the "big, quiet, uncouth . . . almost illiterate" detective on the case, Sheriff Macready, startles a college class on Chaucer that he participates in during the course of his investigations by suddenly declaiming in Middle English the description of the Summoner from the "General Prologue."1 Thus established as a self-declared but...

Notes

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pp. 167-198

Index

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pp. 199-205