Academic journal article Parergon

Historians on Chaucer: The 'General Prologue' to the Canterbury Tales

Academic journal article Parergon

Historians on Chaucer: The 'General Prologue' to the Canterbury Tales

Article excerpt

Rigby, Stephen, ed., with Alastair Minnis, Historians on Chaucer: The 'General Prologue' to the Canterbury Tales, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2014; hardback; pp. 528; R.R.P. [pounds sterling]65.00; ISBN 9780199689545.

Interdisciplinarity between literary scholars and historians nowadays comes naturally to medieval studies, and this volume is a useful example of the practicalities of using historical context as an approach to The Canterbury Tales, and vice versa.

This is a substantial book, in which is gathered a wide array of chapters by experts in economic, social, political, religious and intellectual history, mapping various historical contexts a reader can bring to the Tales. In taking this approach the work is grounding the characterizations of Chaucer's pilgrims in their contemporary social contexts, and offering a practical introduction to the subtleties of influence of the varied structures of power and authority, conflicting religious and political activities and economic tensions in medieval England.

The volume comprises twenty-six chapters in which characterizations, roles and representations of each of the Canterbury pilgrims are explored in a social context. …

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