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STUDIES IN THE AGE OF CHAUCER students who because of language problems cannot or will not go back to the difficult and at times even forbidding originals.The anthology can particularlybe recommended to studentswho do notspecializein the ever­ widening world of Arthur but feel the need for a trustworthy guide to this important body of literature. Moreover, it will be a reliable source of information and inspiration for devotees and fans from particular genres and media such as Arthurian films, musicals, ballets, etc., who feel the need for a more comprehenseive view of the whole matter of Britain. KARL HEINZ GOLLER JEAN RITZKE-RUTHERFORD Universitat Regensburg CHAUNCEY WOOD. The Elements of Chaucer's Trotlus. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1984. Pp. xii, 204. $35.00. Chaucer concludes Troilus and Criseyde with a request, addressed to "moralGower" (and "philosophical Strode"): "ther nede is, to correcte" his work. Wood concludes his study by revealing that what he has "asked for­ and sometimes attempted"-is a "Gowerian" reading of the poem (pp. 168-69). Gower had later produced his ownexemplary versions of the story ofTroilus in Confessio Amantis (notably at 5.7597-602); but Wood does not discuss that. The spirit that he summons up to "correcte" modern misreadings of Chaucer's poem assumes the shape of the author of Vax Clamantis. Wood argues (pp. 31-37) that "what Chaucer Really Did to II Fzlostrato" was reshape the story of the besottedTrojan prince so that it might act as a warning to the inhabitants of "NewTroy" (i.e., London) in the spirit of Vax c!amantis, and a scattering of writings by other four­ teenth-century moralists, who saw the debilitating power of Venus as a major threat to the realm. So the pagan actors in this "tragedye," set in the period of antiquity, are treated as if they were parishioners of Chaucer's Parson, who declares that "fornicacioun, that is bitwixe man and womman that been nat maried...is deedly synne, and agayns nature" (cf. p. 168). Consequently Criseyde is not so much to blame for her "infidelity" (sic) to Troilus, through her "carryings-on" with Diomede, as for committing herself to an extramarital affair in the first place (p. 140). 270 REVIEWS Since Wood starts from such a set of assumptions, it would clearly be a waste of his time for him to observe how Chaucer carefully contrasts the behavior of the two men.This approach may also be responsible for his tendency to disregard the claims of narrative context. For example, a section headed "Criseyde and the Eyes of Prudence"continues for fourteen pages (129-43) without once considering the occasion for the speech in which she employs the commonplace about Prudence's "eyen thre" (5.744). He does not mention the fact that she is here bitterly regretting her decision to rejectTroilus's plan for elopement, which she took during her long debate with him that concluded book 4. Indeed, Wood never discusses this crucial debate, nor does he appear to notice that dialectic is one of the poem's most important "elements." He does not attempt to consider why Criseyde now thinks that she is in a "snare"().748) and how this belief affects her subsequent behavior. Instead he argues knowingly that Criseyde had lacked Prudence (and Fortitude) from the momentwhen she allowed herself to become involved in an extramarital affair. En route he produces the remarkable suggestion (p. 139) that the author of Anti­ gone's song (2.827ff.) was Helen. Since Antigone herself says-in a line which Wood quotes-that the poetess was "the goodlieste mayde I Of gret estat in al the town of Troye"(italics added), this is a somewhat improbable conjecture. In Chapter 2(passim),Troilus is compared to Amant, in the Roman de la Rose, for foolishly following the God of Love and ignoring the advice of Reason. One wonders, therefore, why Criseyde tells him that she loved him because "youre resoun bridlede youre delit"(4.1678). Moreover, this is not merely her opinion of him. Whereas Wood reprovesTroilus for standing "mute"(p. 91) during the "parlement,"in which the exchange of Criseyde for Antenor is mooted, Chaucer commends him...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1949-0755
Print ISSN
0190-2407
Pages
pp. 270-272
Launched on MUSE
2018-01-03
Open Access
No
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