Chaucer, Boccaccio, and the Debate of Love: A Comparative Study of the Decameron and the Canterbury Tales

Chaucer, Boccaccio, and the Debate of Love: A Comparative Study of the Decameron and the Canterbury Tales

Chaucer, Boccaccio, and the Debate of Love: A Comparative Study of the Decameron and the Canterbury Tales

Chaucer, Boccaccio, and the Debate of Love: A Comparative Study of the Decameron and the Canterbury Tales

Synopsis

In this study, Thompson explores the links between the two most popular collections of medieval narrative. Looking at the Decameron and the Canterbury Tales in their entirety, Thompson reveals many surprising similarities--ranging from the way they discuss fiction to their treatment of it--which have, until now, remained unnoticed.

Excerpt

In the previous chapter we saw how the two companies engage in a lively debate on the function of literature in response to the narratives they relate, using the interpretative binary groups 'diletto--utile' and 'sentence--solaas'. This discussion is complicated by considerations of narratorial ambiguity and intention with regard to these functional claims, which is fostered by a dramatic interplay of appearance and reality in the text itself. Thus a narrator's intention to be serious or simply to jest may be complicated by the text's potential for another independent response, which is the subject of the present chapter. Nevertheless, that literature should always maintain a strict awareness of its audience is acknowledged by both groups of narrators and no matter how personal the differences may become between individuals, the discussion is still largely objective in that the narrators are defending a general point of view of fiction, rather than particular narratives of their own creation.

In this chapter I wish to consider the more personal views of the author as he looks at his practice and seeks to defend it. in different ways we see how that author will sometimes accept the claims to creation, yet at the same time diminish the onus of personal responsibility. This, it will be seen, is not in order to avoid potential criticism of the collective material, but in order to make that material as collective as possible. the narratives are thus to be regarded as independent entities, and--if the reader is to exercise personal judgement in response to a text-- also need to be considered as if they were objective realities. For the full Aristotelian moral response, the audience has to accept responsibility for any difficult material and seek to accommodate it. Furthermore, if both authors wish their audiences to shoulder more of the interpretative burden in this way, they also fragment the persona as presented in the collections, thus . . .

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