Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Chaucer and the Trivium: The Mindsong of the Canterbury Tales

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Chaucer and the Trivium: The Mindsong of the Canterbury Tales

Article excerpt

J. Stephen Russell, Chaucer and the Trivium: The Mindsong of the Canterbury Tales (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1998). x + 265 pp. ISBN 0-- 8130-1637-1. $49.95.

J. Stephen Russell's study of the significance of the trivium for the Canterbury Tales is written primarily for students of Chaucer and Middle English literature. The introduction advertises the triple thesis that `Chaucer and his contemporaries thought differently from the way you and I do', that this `difference can be appreciated (provisionally) when we study how Chaucer and his contemporaries were educated', and that this "`difference in thinking" is a fundamental and formative influence on the Canterbury Tales' (pp. 2-3). Chapter 1, 'A medieval education and its implications', then proceeds to outline the pedagogical bases for subsequent exposition of individual tales. This mainly entails grammar and logic, and most notably Modistic understanding of cognitive processes, Porphyry's Tree, Aristotelian categories, accesses headings, and supposition theory. Useful `evidentiary ground rules' (p. 7) remind the student, for example, that Chaucer's (re)sources were often extracts, compilations, and summaries, and that his scholasticism should not be assumed beyond grammar school level.

Chapter 2, `The dance of predication: the General Prologue', makes much of the alleged impact of the Aristotelian categories on the presentation of pilgrims, and how this breaks down as the text progresses. In similar vein, with medieval understandings of predication and accidence in mind, it is contended that `Chaucer's readers must determine and then choose between accidental and essential selves for the Canterbury pilgrims' (p. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.