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STUDIES IN THE AGE OF CHAUCER source texts that medieval chroniclers blended and his ability to build dense readings that do much to explain how writers could both borrow from the romance tradition and maintain their claim to be discriminating historians committed to preserving the integrity of the Galfredian account. The conceptual apparatus is less rich, as in the treatment of the study’s key definitional terms, history and romance. Moll begins by remarking, sensibly enough, that we need not impose rigid generic labels on Arthurian narratives, but his alternative conception of distinct traditions defined by their narrative content fails to address or resolve some of the real challenges that have been posed by scholars such as Gabriel Spiegel. Thus when Moll acknowledges that writers such as Wace introduced non-Galfredian material into their narrative (for example , the creation of the Round Table), his original criteria for distinguishing the chronicle tradition has to be jettisoned. What remains uncertain is precisely why the creation of the Round Table was, or should be, perceived as ‘‘historical,’’ whereas other extra-Galfredian events are relegated to the status of fable. An implicit sense of what separates the historical from the fabulous is certainly at work here, but it remains inadequately theorized. Despite some problems in the subsidiary arguments, this study presents a strong and convincing case for rethinking the relationship of chronicle writers and redactors to their sources. Moll’s book will certainly enrich our sense of how communities of readers navigated a complex and multifaceted textual tradition. In so doing he offers a valuable contribution to both Malory studies and the increasingly exciting reevaluation of the chronicle tradition now under way. Patricia DeMarco Ohio Wesleyan University Thomas A. Prendergast. Chaucer’s Dead Body: From Corpse to Corpus. New York: Routledge, 2004. Pp. vii, 180. $90.95 cloth, $24.95 paper. Thomas Prendergast’s book is both a study and a product of what he describes as ‘‘an ongoing historical obsession’’ with the interlinking of ‘‘body, death, corpus, money’’ in relation to Chaucer and his tomb— PAGE 342 342 ................. 11491$ CH13 11-01-10 14:02:47 PS REVIEWS ‘‘Chaucer’’ here signifying the physical body of the poet, his works, and the concepts he came to symbolize, in particular a concept of Englishness . ‘‘Money’’ was one of the earliest elements in his list, Prendergast tells us on the first page, on account of a series of references between 1566 and 1577 that debtors were to pay money ‘‘at the tombe of Jeffrey Chawcer,’’ and he wondered why. He never does come up with an answer , but the search leads him through various byways of how the memorialization of Chaucer has been thought about over the years, most especially in the nineteenth century, through a focus on what he calls the ‘‘preternatural leftover’’ of the physical body of the poet. The book is organized as a chronological study. It starts with the fifteenth century and proceeds by way of the 1556 erection of the tomb and Dryden’s burial at the same site (Dryden, incidentally, being described throughout as an eighteenth-century poet), through nineteenth-century concerns about the state of the tomb, whether it actually contained Chaucer’s body, and how big Chaucer was, to the twentieth-century ‘‘disembodiment’’ of Chaucer. Within that framework, Prendergast follows a number of consistent themes. The double memorialization of Chaucer both in the Works and in the Westminster Abbey tomb and the widespread medieval troping of the body as book form the bedrock of his analysis—the equivalence, as the subtitle puts it, between corpse and corpus. He returns from various angles to the nexus between symbolic and financial capital. He worries not about whether the Father of English poetry is in a tomb that no longer memorializes him adequately through decay, or that he might not be in the tomb at all, but what it meant that such things worried other people. All attempts to memorialize Chaucer, in art or editions or a monument, are therefore subjected to a psychoanalytic or psychosexual analysis of motivation (except of course his own). On the burial itself, and related questions such as whether Chaucer’s remains were actually moved into...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1949-0755
Print ISSN
0190-2407
Pages
pp. 342-345
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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