Geoffrey Chaucer, the Critical Heritage

By Derek Brewer | Go to book overview
Save to active project

44.

MARIO PRAZ, CHAUCER THE MERCHANTMAN

1927

Mario Praz (born 1896), distinguished Italian scholar and critic of literature and art, was Professor of English Language and Literature in the University of Rome, 1934-66. The valuable scholarly examination of Chaucer’s debt to the great Italian writers Dante, Boccaccio and Petrarch reveals a Chaucer already established in the tradition of English nineteenth-century criticism: a placid bourgeois, incapable of conceiving Dante’s greatness; a simple medieval mind hungering for quotation, and incapable of presenting Criseyde with irony; but of a keen dramatic genius. Nevertheless Chaucer is indeed seen as ‘Dante in English’—as much of Dante as English could accommodate. Boccaccio’s influence is argued to be much less significant than Dante’s. Chaucer’s artistry is considered to be economical, concrete and domestic, though Chaucer shows off his superficial learning; his interests are in loyalty and morality; all very suitable to a trading nation. The vivid spectacle of Italian life must also, it is claimed, have sharpened Chaucer’s sense of drama. Reprinted from the ‘Monthly Criterion’, pp. 20-39, 131-7, 149-57 by permission of Doubleday & Co. Inc.

CHAUCER AND THE GREAT ITALIAN WRITERS OF THE TRECENTO

(p. 20) Even among the safest Chaucerian scholars over-subtlety proves sometimes to be a vice; we need not, then, be surprised at the vagaries of the less safe source-hunters. Were the reading-public alive to a morbid curiosity about source-complexes, as it is admittedly about sex-complexes, a publisher could find sufficient inducement to issue a selection of Chauceriana uniform with H.L. Mencken’s annual anthologies of Americana; and I am not sure whether, after that, ‘Americana’ would still bear the palm in the way of supreme nonsense writing.

I am going to give only one instance of priceless pettifogging interpretation, because it may serve as a convenient introduction to my study of Italian influence on Chaucer. A contributor to ‘The Nation’ for October 20th, 1904, conjectured that the nineteen ladies following the God of Love in the Prologue to the ‘Legend of Good

-403-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Geoffrey Chaucer, the Critical Heritage
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 512

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?