Chaucerian Polity: Absolutist Lineages and Associational Forms in England and Italy

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Stanford University Press, 1997 - Literary Criticism - 555 pages
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Chaucer's encounters with the great Trecento authors - Dante, Boccaccio, and Petrarch - facilitate the testing and dismantling of time-honored terms such as medieval, Renaissance, and humanism. The author argues that no magic curtain separated "medieval" London and Westminster from "Renaissance" Florence and Milan; as a result of his Italian journeys, all sites were interlinked for Chaucer as parts of a transnational nexus of capital, cultural, mercantile, and military exchange. In his travels, Chaucer was exposed to the Trecento's most crucial material and ideological conflict, that between a fully developed and highly inclusive associational polity (Florence) and the first, prototypically imperfect, absolutist state of modern times (Lombardy). The author's articulation of "Chaucerian polity" - through analyses of art, architecture, city and country, household space, guild and mercantile cultures, as well as literary texts - thus opens sightlines through the Henrician revolution to the writings of Shakespeare. In the process, this innovative study of Chaucer's poetry and prose is invigorated by an engagement with approaches gleaned from modern Marxist historiography, gender theory, and cultural studies.
 

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Contents

Chaucer in Florence and Lombardy
9
The General Prologue and the Anatomy
65
English Guilds
83
Thesian Polity
104
Powers of the Countryside
125
Absent City
156
Men of Law
182
Violence
212
Humanism
261
Chaucers Monk
299
Legends and Lives
337
Conclusion
379
Notes
391
Bibliography
497
Index
541
Copyright

Chaucer in the House
247

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About the author (1997)

David Wallace is Judith Rodin Professor at the Department of English at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the editor of The Cambridge History of Medieval Literature, and the author of Chaucerian Polity.

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