The Circulation of Social Energy in the Canterbury Tales
Mohamed Karim Dhouib
Université de Sousse
Stimulated by the aspiration to talk with the past, this book relocates the Canterbury Tales in its historical context to uncover the cultural, social, and economic traces suppressed and refigured in the process of literary representation. It examines the ideological strategies and collective beliefs in the midst of the cultural and socio-economic crises of medieval England and explains how these crises traversed the Tales. It tries to integrate the textual and the social and resituate the cultural traces and social energies encoded in the Tales.
In working through literary traditions of generic and stylistic difference, Geoffrey Chaucer assimilates his vision of the medieval social energy into a discursive construct that absorbs the diversity of late fourteenth-century reality. Under the umbrella of the festive pilgrimage, Chaucer makes room for the lower-class pilgrims to subvert the medieval weltanschauung and its theologically-grounded culture as bodied forth in the Boethianised and epicised Knight’s Tale. However, the seditious seeds, grown in disruptive tales like the Miller’s and Wife of Bath’s, are infused with subtexts that undo and contain the subversive potential. The sense of containment receives further emphasis in the Clerk’s Tale, the Parson’s Tale, and the Retractions which, in their affirmation of the reigning orthodoxies, preach submission to all forms of authority (fatherly, husbandly, feudal, and divine).
ISBN 9783969390238. LINCOM Studies in Language and Literature 24. 132pp. 2020.