The Parlement of Foules: An Interpretation

The Parlement of Foules: An Interpretation

The Parlement of Foules: An Interpretation

The Parlement of Foules: An Interpretation

Excerpt

The first draft of this study (which does not pretend to be a complete exposition) was written during a sabbatical term spent by the long wash of Australasian seas, far from libraries and the accessories of learning. I have since perused most of the discussions of its subject that have appeared in the last half-century and that are now conveniently listed in Griffith Bibliography of Chaucer, 1908-1953; but I have judged it neither possible nor profitable to indicate where my opinions coincide with, or differ from, those of earlier writers. 'A view of a subject,' Hazlitt remarks, 'to be connected and regular, cannot all be new'; and it is heartening rather than dispiriting to find that since I began to write at least some of the critics named in the Bibliographical Note have interpreted this poem or parts of it in ways not essentially different from those followed here. I have found it necessary to make some generalizations about medieval philosophy that may well suggest a greater ignorance or misunderstanding of this philosophy than anyone who writes about medieval poetry should have to confess. Here the excuse must be, first, that the philosophical climate--to accept the current misuse of Glanvill's phrase--in which Chaucer wrote has not hitherto been sufficiently considered, often not considered at all; and secondly that to add the desirable riders and qualifications would be to do ineptly what has been done magistrally by De Wulf, Gilson, and Van Steenberghen.

I owe thanks to Professor C. S. Lewis and Mr. C. G. Hardie for several corrections and suggestions.

J. A. W. B.

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