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n o t e s Preface 1. Harold Pinter is quoted from Michael Billington,“The Evil that Men Do,” in The Guardian, June 30, 2001. 2. I am referring here to the oft-quoted sentence that opens L.P. Hartley ’s novel The Go-Between: “The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.” one. Historical Criticism and the Development of Chaucer Studies 1. Recent examples of these two different kinds of work are L.O. Aranye Fradenburg, Sacrifice Your Love: Psychoanalysis, Historicism, Chaucer (Minneapolis : University of Minnesota Press, 2002), and Alastair Minnis, Fallible Authors : Chaucer’s Pardoner and Wife of Bath (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008). 2. In Parler du moyen âge (Paris: Editions de Minuit, 1980), Paul Zumthor playfully invokes psychoanalytic language to describe medieval studies. He speaks of “le médiévisme de papa” (p. 31) and suggests that the antiquarianism that has traditionally motivated so much medieval scholarship is itself expressive of Freudian instincts: “l’érudition devient le refuge des Oedipes ratés” (p. 29), who are denied a more direct return to the maternal origin. Zumthor’s analysis in fact takes psychoanalysis no more seriously than does my own. 252 Patterson-11notes 9/17/09 4:03 PM Page 252 3. A bibliography of Robertson’s writings through 1977 is available in his Essays in Medieval Culture (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1980), pp. 283–84. 4. E. Talbot Donaldson, “Patristic Exegesis in the Criticism of Medieval Literature: The Opposition,” in Dorothy Bethurum, ed., Critical Approaches to Medieval Literature (New York: Columbia University Press, 1960), pp. 1–26, reprinted in Speaking of Chaucer (New York: Norton, 1970), pp. 134–53, along with the analogous “Medieval Poetry and Medieval Sin,” pp. 164–74; Francis Lee Utley, “Robertsonianism Redivivus,” Romance Philology 19 (1965): 250–60, reprinted as “Chaucer and Patristic Exegesis” in A. C. Cawley, ed., Chaucer’s Mind and Art (Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd, 1969), pp. 69–85; Morton W. Bloomfield, “Symbolism in Medieval Literature,” Modern Philology 56 (1958): 73–81, reprinted in Essays and Explorations: Studies in Ideas, Language, and Literature (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1970), pp. 82–95; Donald R. Howard, “Medieval Poems and Medieval Society,” Medievalia et Humanistica, n.s. 3 (1972): 99–115; Robert E. Kaske, “The Defense,” in Critical Approaches to Medieval Literature, pp. 27–60, and “Chaucer and Medieval Allegory,” ELH 30 (1963): 175–92. 5. Donaldson opens his attack on Exegetics with a disarming admission that in fact serves as a familiar empiricist enabling move: “I am not aware of any valid theoretical objection to the use of patristic exegesis in the criticism of medieval literature,” he says, thereby protecting his own practice from theoretical examination and appealing to shared standards of value that remain powerfully unarticulated. A theoretical attack on Exegetics was in fact offered by Ronald S. Crane in “On Hypotheses in ‘Historical Criticism’: Apropos of Certain Contemporary Medievalists,” in The Idea of the Humanities (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1967), 2.236–60. Crane’s claim is that Robertsonian exegesis violates canons of interpretive correctness, a claim that contemporary criticism, with its stronger sense of the conventional nature of all interpretive activity, would be less likely to make. 6. Examples of the polemical nature of Exegetics include the critical writings of Judson B. Allen, A Distinction of Stories (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1981) (with Theresa Anne Moritz) and The Ethical Poetic of the Later Middle Ages (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1982), and John V. Fleming, Reason and the Lover (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984). While it is true that in A Distinction of Stories Allen and Moritz “state bluntly and categorically” that they are not “Robertsonian” (p. 34 n. 20), both this book and Allen’s Ethical Poetic are premised on the assumptions of Robertson’s brand of historicism and are directed against the Robertsonian targets of “modern critical expectations” (Distinction, p. x) and the “solipsism” and “mere aestheticism ” that is said to characterize contemporary modes of critical understanding (Ethical Poetic, pp. xi and 38). Fleming, Robertson’s successor at Notes to Pages 2–3 253 Patterson-11notes 9/17/09 4:03 PM Page 253 Princeton, opens his book on the Roman de la rose with an anathema against what he calls “The Ithacan Heresy” promoted by such irreligious Cornellians as Winthrop Wetherbee and Thomas D. Hill. On the other side, critical anxiety about the historicist claims of Exegetics were ubiquitous. Two examples, chosen not because they are egregious but...


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