ABOUT THIS BOOK
Innovative and thorough, Signs and Symbols in Chaucer’s Poetry presents nine essays that reexamine the literary iconography of Middle English. Chaucer’s work is the most well-known, and possibly the most significant, remnant of the Middle Ages; investigations into his writing and meanings are fruitful even today. The essays collected by John P. Hermann and John J. Burke Jr. invite scholars to consider new interpretations of old symbols while acknowledging the intricacies of historical context.
Each highly distinguished scholar responds to D. W. Robertson’s seminal, if controversial, approach to Chaucer’s work. Robertson’s scholarship, which also provides the opening essay of the collection, uses a historicist approach to contextualize Chaucer’s imagery within the literary and cultural conventions of the Middle Ages. Sources for such contextualization include etymology, topology, the classics, pictorial art, the Bible, and the developing sciences of the time. Robertson, as well as his contemporary Bernard F. Huppé, provided a fascinating new direction for modern Chaucer studies that focused on daily life.
Each essay uses this approach to draw attention to various examples of Chaucer’s iconography. The texts span several of Chaucer’s works and a plethora of subjects, including music, disappointed expectations, repeated or conflicting signs, and more. This volume provides insight into Chaucer’s work as well as the Middle Ages as a whole, examining conventions and expectations of society at that time. Scholars, instructors, and lovers of Chaucer will all find value in this finely edited collection.