In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

HUMANITIES 93 semantic range, with some importantomissions in 'alphyne: 80; 'alured: 94', '4'2; 'insignyte: '335; and'trewes: 539. Omission of philological or morphological information and inconsistent citation of line references limit wider linguistic use; proper names, too, are often insufficiently identified (why, for example, is'Algazel,' 1675, not also cited in the more .common form'Alhazen'?). Nevertheless, these inadequacies are perhaps minor in view of Harvey 's major contribution: to sift through scattered, fragmented, and often erroneous scholarship iit order to provide a readable, attractive edition of an important but long-neglected work in Engiish poetic tradition. That tradition can now, in fact, be analysed in a broader context, for here we have a text clearly dependent upon earlier writers such as Chaucer and Lydgate; still part of a later tradition represented by Hawes and the anonymous Floure and the Leafe; and one anticipating such allegorical works of the next century as Merbury's interlude, Marriage between Wit and Wisdom. (LAUREL BRASWELL) Earle Bimey. Essays on Chaucerian Irony. Edited by Beryl Rowland University of Toronto Press. xxx, 162. $25.00, $12.95 paper This volume brings together for the first time Birney's various essays on irony in Chaucer, and it should be welcomed by students of Chaucer and students of Birney alike. For the student of Chaucer, these eight essays approach Chaucer's irony from several different angles. Four of the essays are explications (of the Miller's Tale, the Friar's Tale, the Summoners Tale, and the Manciple's Tale); Birney's readings are well-informed, sensitive, and insightful. His notion of 'structural irony' is particularly important, and he admirably illustrates its use in his excellent reading of the Miller's Tale. These readings are given a larger context by the more general considerations of the first four essays in the volume. The first essay, 'The Two Worlds of Geoffrey Chaucer: argues that some of the dualisms inherent in Chaucer's life, particularly his position as a bourgeois poet in a still feudal court, helped to determine his ironic stance. The second essay reviews medieval English literature to demonstrate that Chaucer's irony did not arise ex nihilo. The third reviews critical assessments of Chaucer from the fifteenth to the nineteenth centuries to demonstrate that Chaucer's irony is not a modern discovery. And the fourth essay examines Chaucer's early works to demonstrate the presence of irony even at the beginning of his poetic career. These four more general essays were published between 1937and '942. The four explications were published in 1959 and 1960. At the end of her Preface, Beryl Rowland states that'these essays have not dated.' While I agree that they remain valuable, I would suggest that the earlier four have not worn quite as well as the later: the 'Two Worlds' essay, for instance, cannot now be presented as a summation of the current state of scholarship on Chaucer's life and times; and the next three are 'occasional' in that they were offered as correctives to certain views expressed in books current at the time (some of which have not been seen since). This sense of topicality, of the occasional nature of these pieces, has been lessened somewhatby Rowland (I am assuming that the substantive alterations to the essays are editorial, but the Preface and Introduction are silent on this point). The second essay, 'English Irony before Chaucer: originally published in this journal's 'Letters in Canada' issue for "937, began with a reference to the'economic urgencies' of the times which seemed to have put irony out of fashion with contemporary writers such as Gide and Huxley: these two sentences do not appear in the book. In the second sentence of the book version, as in the original, there is another topical reference (to Ottawa remaining unbombed), and this is allowed to stand; similarly, references to contemporary authors such as Beerbohm (p 29) or Barrie and Conrad (p 10) remain. Thus itis unclear why the original opening of the essay was excised unless it was to save the necessity of adding an editorial note to explain which times of economic urgencies were in Birney's mind at the time. Suchannotation...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 93-95
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.