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STUDIES IN THE AGE OF CHAUCER kind of lollard vernacular thinking. The so-called "derivatives" of the Wycliffite sermons, such as the series in Lambeth Palace library 392 and CUL Additional 5338 (see 1: 106-10), may represent not so much derivatives (with all that implies of secondariness and inferiority) as in­ dependent vernacular productions, reworking lollard material in differ­ ent contexts and for nonacademic audiences. There is in fact a large cat­ egory of Middle English works, including the set of eighteen sermons in Bl Addie. 41321, Bodleian MS Rawlinson C.751 and John Rylands MS English 412, edited by Gloria Cigman,2 that seem lollard in attitude though not in every point of doctrine. The appearance of these current volumes signals the time for a reappraisal of the relationship of the ver­ nacular "derivative" productions to the English cycle, and of the nature and trajectory of lollard thinking in the fifteenth century. Scholars will gratefully use this extremely reliable edition for the fur­ ther study of what Nicholas Watson describes as "the tangled history of lollard thought."3 The impeccably high standard of scholarship and presentation makes this superb edition a monument of modern philol­ ogy that will not be surpassed in the foreseeable future. RUTH EVANS University of Wales, Cardiff MICHAELA PAASCHE GRUDIN. Chaucer and the Politics of Discourse. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1996. Pp. ix, 200. $29.95. Michaela Paasche Grudin's engaging and intriguing book appears at a time when Bakhtinian theory is increasingly deployed by feminist, Marxist, and cultural studies critics in the academy. Such work is also becoming more nuanced and sophisticated; where Bakhtin was once cited mostly for the concepts of carnival and folk laughter familiar 2 Gloria Cigman, ed., Lol!ardSermons, Early English Text Society, vol. 294. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989.) 3 Nicholas Watson, "Censorship and Cultural Change in Late-Medieval England: Vernacular Theology, the Oxford Translation Debate, and Arundel's Constirutions of 1409," Speculum 70 (1995): 822-64. 262 REVIEWS from the relatively late Rabelais and His World, critics now draw on discussions of stylistics, discourse, and genre developed throughout his career.Using a nominally Bakhtinian vocabulary, Grudin's book joins this trend, tracing "Chaucer's concern with discourse," "his perennial interest in talk, talkers, and dialogue" (p.1), in the Book ofthe Duchess, Parliament ofFowls, House ofFame (chapter 2), Troilus and Criseyde (chap­ ter 3), and several Canterbury Tales (chapters 4-9). Grudin offers several important contexts for Chaucer's interest in the power and possibilities of speech.The first is the "still-oral culture of England," where "talk ...could be expected to have almost instant practical significance, psychological, social, and political" (p. 2). Second, Chaucer's "almost intuitive yoking of language, character, and experience" (p.2) parallels humanist debates by Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio about speech as a political instrument, an active demonstra­ tion of virtue and citizenship.Third, Chaucer possesses a "sense of the critical nature of discourse (and its political character)" that is "radical" and "dramatically timely" (p.20) when, during Richard II's reign, "se­ vere and arbitrary restrictions on the spoken word both in the city and in the court" (p.20) were imposed.Its radicalism lies in Chaucer's will­ ingness to give speech untrammeled scope: Grudin asks if "at a time when free speech was severely threatened, Chaucer found a way to spon­ sor it through the agency of dialogue, thus working with an instrument which is potentially subversive to all authority?" (p.25). The author's analysis is shaped by "(t}he dialogic mode-with its questions, disputes, pretensions, and misunderstandings" (p. 19). Grudin uses "dialogic" and "dialogical" throughout "ro describe dis­ course as an interaction, whether actual or implied, between speaker and listener," citing Bakhtin's essay "Discourse in the Novel" (p.19 and n. 37).Using the dialogic mode, Chaucer "repeatedly explores the ways in which speech refuses to be prescribed and contained" (p.20).His unique contribution, surpassing the humanists, is his awareness that in the end­ less play of dialogic exchange, closure is "all but impossible," "only one feature of a whole poetic that is at bottom dialogic and social" (p.181). Grudin's...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1949-0755
Print ISSN
0190-2407
Pages
pp. 262-265
Launched on MUSE
2018-01-03
Open Access
No
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