Edmondson, George, the Neighboring Text: Chaucer, Boccaccio, Henryson

By McDonald, Roderick | Parergon, July 2012 | Go to article overview

Edmondson, George, the Neighboring Text: Chaucer, Boccaccio, Henryson


McDonald, Roderick, Parergon


Edmondson, George, The Neighboring Text: Chaucer, Boccaccio, Henryson, Notre Dame, IN, University of Notre Dame Press, 2011; paperback; pp. 296; R.R.P. US$40.00; ISBN 9780268027759.

Chaucer is a staple of any medieval English degree, but both Henryson and this particular Boccaccio text are much less familiar. Having flourished in the English Language and Early English Literature (ELEEL) school at Sydney in the 1980s this reviewer recognizes the critical apparatus at play in this work. Indeed, it is somewhat reassuring to find a contextualizing, poststructuralist analysis that is not afraid to speak about ideology, anxieties, politics, and resistances.

Edmondson's reading and contextualization of his subject--Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde, Boccaccio's Il Filostrato, and Henryson's Testament of Cresseid --are figured around a sound and useful conception of neighbourliness: texts considered as neighbours rather than in an inferred genetic relationship. His approach to the category 'neighbour' is unashamedly psychoanalytic, drawing on, for example, Freud, Lacan, Fradenburg, and Zizek. And the approach is compelling. Edmondson draws on such concepts as jouissance, Nebensmensch, the Freudian 'Thing', desire, the Other, and the Lacanian second (symbolic) death to deliver a challenging framework for his exploration into textual neighbourliness. …

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