In Search of Chaucer

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University of Toronto Press, Dec 15, 1960 - Literary Criticism - 128 pages

In this volume, Professor Bronson is primarily interested in the three worlds which appear in Chaucer's poetry: the dream world; the world of the mundane existence and waking observation; and the world of imagined life through reading. A study of these worlds raises questions about the kind of truth which resides in each, the literary values which can be extracted from them, their essentail relation to one another, and the perennial problem of appearance and reality.

Professor Bronson is also concerned with the general critical approach to Chaucer's writings. He feels that many recent Chaucerian scholars have been misled by their application of critical disciplines nourished on the metaphysical poets to a poet who deliberately practised a style capable of being followed by a moderately attentive ear. The fact that Chaucer's poetry was composed for oral delivery has received no more than lip service from critics; yet Chaucer's relation to his audience is obviously of the greatest importance in understanding his poems. It behooves us, therefore, to clarify our thoughts as to the kind of techniques we may fittingly apply. Professor Bronson suggests that a less sophisticated way of looking at the subject might yield better results.

Professor Bronson's book is a form of introduction to this new view of Chaucer; it is not a complete guide but an explanatory visit to each sphere of Chaucer's world, skilfully evocative of the people of the dream legends, the pilgrimage, the literary heroes and heroines of the Middle Ages, whom Chaucer brought into his poetry.

This book is decorated with drawings in the manner of woodcuts taken from the three worlds of Chaucer's poetry.

The Alexander Lectures for 1958-59.

 

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Contents

SO FULL OF SHAPES
IN AND OUT OF DREAMS
BY
BY CANDLELIGHT

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About the author (1960)

Bertrand H. Bronson (1903-1986) was a graduate of the University of Michigan, of Harvard, of Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar, and of Yale. For many years he was Professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley. He edited Samuel Johnson: Rasselas, Poems, and Selected Prose and is author of The Traditional Tunes of the Child Ballads.

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