The Literary Imagination: Studies in Dante, Chaucer, and Shakespeare

By Derek Traversi | Go to book overview

4
The Manciple’s Tale

IN the present state of The Canterbury Tales, as given in the editions normally read, the last tale before the Parson’s final sermon is told by the Manciple. We learn from the prologue to the tale that the pilgrimage has reached “a litel toun,” which is given the name of “Bobbe-up-and-doun.” This place has generally been identified with Harbledown, or occasionally with a certain Up-and-down Field in Thannington; both places are “under the Blee” (IX. 3), or Blea Forest, and are therefore beyond Broughton on the last lap of the pilgrim’s route to Canterbury.1 Moreover, in the manuscripts as they stand the tale told by the Manciple is connected by the first line of the prologue to The Parsons Tale with the sermon that winds up the whole pilgrimage. This last reading has, however, been questioned, both on grounds that concern the reliability of the text and because the indication in the Manciple’s prologue (IX. 16) that the tale was told in the morning seems to imply that Chaucer may have meant to introduce other tales between it and the Parson’s discourse, which began, we are told,2 at four in the afternoon. It is impossible, in view of these uncertainties, to argue with complete conviction concerning The Manciple’s Tale from its present position in the text; but it is attractive to think that Chaucer, however uncertain he may have been about the final order of the tales, and although he may have changed his mind concerning it or even left the matter finally undecided, at least considered

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The Literary Imagination: Studies in Dante, Chaucer, and Shakespeare
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Author's Note 7
  • 1 - The Theme of Poetry in Dante's Purgatorio 11
  • 2 - Why Is Ulysses in Hell? 47
  • 3 - The Franklins Tale 87
  • 4 - The Manciple's Tale 120
  • 5 - [Unaccommodated Man] in King Lear 145
  • 6 - The Imaginative and the Real in Antony and Cleopatra 197
  • 7 - Shakespeare's Dramatic Illusion in the Tempest 228
  • Index 260
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