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The Professional: Thomas Hoccleve Sarah Tolmie University of Waterloo No man ever writ, but for money. —Samuel Johnson Thomas Hoccleve has undergone a lot of rehabilitation lately. Recent forms of historicism have saved him from lingering censure for dementia, effeminacy, and venality, and enlisted him instead as a participant in the larger social developments of his age: the bureaucratization of fifteenth-century society,1 the drama of assimilating Lancastrian rule,2 the fraught and contradictory rise of a money economy,3 the task of domesticating Chaucer into a national icon.4 He has been reassessed as an ideologue, a translator, a feminist,5 a civil servant, an advi1 See Ethan Knapp, ‘‘Bureaucratic Identity and the Construction of the Self in Hoccleve ’s Formulary and La Male Regle,’’ Speculum 74 (1999): 357–76, and his book The Bureaucratic Muse: Thomas Hoccleve and the Literature of Late Medieval England (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2001). 2 See, for example, Paul Strohm, England’s Empty Throne: Usurpation and the Language of Legitimation 1399–1422 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998), pp. 141–48, 180–86, 197–214; and Derek Pearsall, ‘‘Hoccleve’s Regiment of Princes: The Poetics of Royal Self-Representation,’’ Speculum 69 (1994): 386–410. 3 See Robert J. Meyer-Lee, ‘‘Hoccleve and the Apprehension of Money,’’ Exemplaria 13 (2001): 173–214. 4 Selected examples include J. A. Burrow, ‘‘Hoccleve and Chaucer,’’ in Chaucer Traditions : Studies in Honour of Derek Brewer, ed. Ruth Morse and Barry Windeatt (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), pp. 54–61; David R. Carlson, ‘‘Thomas Hoccleve and the Chaucer Portrait,’’ HLQ 54 (1991): 283–300; Albrecht Classen, ‘‘Hoccleve’s Independence from Chaucer: A Study of Poetic Emancipation,’’ Fifteenth-Century Studies 16 (1990): 59–81; Ethan Knapp, ‘‘Eulogies and Usurpations: Hoccleve and Chaucer Revisited,’’ SAC 21 (1999): 247–73 ; Jeanne E. Krochalis, ‘‘Hoccleve’s Chaucer Portrait ,’’ ChauR 21 (1986–87): 234–45; James H. MacGregor, ‘‘The Iconography of Chaucer in Hoccleve’s De Regimine Principum and in the Troilus Frontispiece,’’ ChauR 11 (1977): 338–50; Tim William Machan, ‘‘Textual Authority and the Works of Hoccleve, Lydgate, and Henryson,’’ Viator 23 (1992): 281–99. 5 See Catherine Batt, ‘‘Hoccleve And. Feminism? Negotiating Meaning in the Regiment of Princes,’’ in Essays on Thomas Hoccleve, ed. Catherine Batt (London: Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Queen Mary and Westfield College, University of London, 1996), pp. 55–84; Ruth Nissé, ‘‘‘Oure Fadres Olde and Modres’: Gender, Heresy, and Hoccleve’s Literary Politics,’’ SAC 21 (1999): 275–99; Jennifer E. Bryan, ‘‘Hoccleve, the Virgin, and the Politics of Complaint,’’ PMLA 117, no. 5 (2002): 1172–87; Anna Torti, ‘‘Hoccleve’s Attitude toward Women: ‘I Shoop Me Do My Peyne PAGE 341 341 ................. 16596$ CH10 11-01-10 14:07:34 PS STUDIES IN THE AGE OF CHAUCER sor to princes,6 a sufferer of psychotic illness.7 Evidence for such identifications has been drawn from his life records, and from the formulary he compiled for the office of Privy Seal during his tenure as a clerk, but chiefly from his poetry. Yet his specific status as a writer of poetry has remained secondary in much recent criticism: the poet has become a prisoner of context, administrative, political, or cultural. This does Hoccleve a particular disservice because the primary identity of his textual persona is that of poet; he is constantly and consciously engaged in the business of collecting, collating, translating, soliciting advice on, seeking patronage of, procrastinating over, and, above all, trying to sell,8 poetry. The writing of poetic texts, and the implications of this action for the writer of them, and for the various readers, patrons, and buyers of them is the overriding concern of his work. My contention is that Hoccleve’s mission was to create the secular poet, himself, as a professional subject and to figure him explicitly into the economy of representation. No other Privy Seal clerk working in the first quarter of the fifteenth century has left a significant body of poetry; Prentys, Arondel, and the other colleagues Hoccleve mentions in his work shared a literate coterie culture but did not write poems about it, or about anything else, at and Diligence / To Wynne Hir Loue by...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1949-0755
Print ISSN
0190-2407
Pages
pp. 341-373
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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