Manuscript of Canterbury Tales.
Wednesday, July 9, 2008


Canterbury Tales

This will be updated periodically. I slacked off on The Romance of the Rose, and will try to be more conscientious about updating this as I finish tales.

The General Prologue—Here we have the scene set, and the characters introduced. The Prioress is interesting because she has a piece of jewelry with the motto Amor vincit omnia. This is instead of a rosary or a religious medal. It is, of course, capable of a religious interpretation, especially in light of John’s declaration that God is love. It is also capable of an erotic interpretation, and that is the most probable meaning.

The Knight’s Tale—This is one of the sources for The Two Noble Kinsmen by Beaumont with some tinkering by Shakespeare. When I took the Shakespeare class at Catholic University we read all of Shakespeare in one semester (3 plays per week), and we read The Two Noble Kinsmen. What is immediately obvious in this play is that some parts are obviously not by Shakespeare. One instance is that a girl is told to seduce the jailer, and she does. In Shakespeare bed tricks, such as that of Helena in Alls Well That Ends Well are perpetrated by wives on erring husbands in order to get them into the right beds.

Chaucer’s tale does not have this element of illicit intercourse. It is set in pagan Greece, and tells of the love of two cousins for the same girl.

The crucial point here is that Palamon prays to Venus to win the girl, Emily; Emily prays to Diana to go with the one who loves her more; Arcite prays to Mars for victory. All three prayers are granted. Arcite wins the joust over Palamon, but is killed when Saturn causes a disturbance that injures him. Palamon gets Emily. Now note that Arcite doesn’t pray to get the girl. He assumes that the girl comes with victory, or perhaps he is more interested in the victory than the girl, because he prays to Mars, god of war, not Venus, goddess of love. So perhaps Arcite loves love less than he loves war.

In this tale love does conquer all.

The Miller’s Tale—This one is well known for it’s obscenity, and it’s bawdiness. Rather than pure love, both Nicholas and Absolon are victims of lust. John, the husband of Alisoun, is the older man who has the misfortune to have taken a young wife (18). As a young woman Alisoun is “likerous” or lecherous. So John is incapable of satisfying her. Here we have a staple of stories from The Decameron on. Oddly Alisoun is the only character who escapes with her dignity, or her body, more or less intact.

The Reve’s Tale—This is a reply by the reve, a carpenter, to the miller’s tale. The miller is described as dishonest, and a bit of a thief. I don’t know if millers had a reputation for dishonesty, but it is possible that they did. This might be due to the inevitable loss of hull and other parts of the grain during the milling process. The person bringing the grain would always get less weight back than he brought, hence the miller stole some. (I’ve got no idea whether this is true or not. I’m suggesting it as a possible explanation for the miller’s reputation as a thief.) In the reve’s tale the students get to enjoy the miller’s wife and daughter, and escape with the bread, and a cake made from the stolen flour.

The Cooks Tale—This tale is fragmentary and unfinished.

The Man of Law’s Tale—This is a story told in rime royal rather than in the couplets of the preceding tales. The story focuses on Custance, or Constance, the daughter of the Roman emperor. She is betrothed to the Sultan of Syria on the condition that he and his people convert from Islam to Christianity. The Sultan’s mother urges a false conversion:

'Lordes,' quod she, 'ye knowen everichon,
How that my sone in point is for to lete
The holy lawes of our Alkaron,
Yeven by goddes message Makomete.
But oon avow to grete god I hete,
The lyf shal rather out of my body sterte
Than Makometes lawe out of myn herte!

What shulde us tyden of this newe lawe
But thraldom to our bodies and penance?
And afterward in helle to be drawe
For we reneyed Mahoun our creance?
But, lordes, wol ye maken assurance,
As I shal seyn, assenting to my lore,
And I shall make us sauf for evermore?'

They sworen and assenten, every man,
To live with hir and dye, and by hir stonde;
And everich, in the beste wyse he can,
To strengthen hir shal alle his freendes fonde;
And she hath this empryse y-take on honde,
Which ye shal heren that I shal devyse,
And to hem alle she spak right in this wyse.

'We shul first feyne us cristendom to take,
Cold water shal not greve us but a lyte;
And I shal swich a feste and revel make,
That, as I trowe, I shal the sowdan quyte.
For though his wyf be cristned never so whyte,
She shal have nede to wasshe awey the rede,
Thogh she a font-ful water with hir lede.'

This is an example of taqiya, dissimulation (lying) to avoid persecution, and is apparently sanctioned in the Koran (16:106).

Constance is a cast adrift, and ultimately winds up married to the king of Northumberland.

In Chaucer’s view the stars fortell our destiny.

Paraventure in thilke large book
Which that men clepe the heven, y-writen was
With sterres, whan that he his birthe took,
That he for love shulde han his deeth, allas!
For in the sterres, clerer than is glas,
Is writen, god wot, who-so coude it rede,
The deeth of every man, withouten drede.

In sterres, many a winter ther-biforn,
Was writen the deeth of Ector, Achilles,
Of Pompey, Iulius, er they were born;
The stryf of Thebes; and of Ercules,
Of Sampson, Turnus, and of Socrates
The deeth; but mennes wittes been so dulle,
That no wight can wel rede it atte fulle.

The Shipman’s Tale—This is not terribly profound. It is another fabliau in which a merchant is deceived by his wife and a monk.

The Prioress’ Tale—This one is problematic. It contains a blood libel upon the Jewish people. Is the anti-Semitism of the prioress to be assigned to Chaucer? Maybe not. Chaucer seems to be somewhat sceptical of relics, and miracles. See for example his comments on the Pardoner in the General Prologue. So his view of the little boy’s singing, and the grain placed in his mouth by the Virgin may be ironic. It may also be that since the boy is described as being alive until the grain is removed by the priest, that it is not the Jews who actually kill him.

The Tale of Sir Thopas—This is a parody of knightly romances

July 18, 2008

The Tale of Melibee—The host puts an end to the tale of Sir Thopas. In a moment of literary criticism that is a model of conciseness and precision, he says:

“By god,” quod he, “for pleynly, at a word,
Thy drasty ryming is nat worth a tord.”

He requests something with a bit more doctrine, and this Chaucer gives him in spades. Melibee has no plot. It starts off with an attack upon Melibee’s daughter. He asks his friends and neighbors for advice, and is about to go to war when his wife, Prudence, intervenes. There follows an extensive discussion, dominated by Prudence, that uses quotations from the Bible, Seneca, Cicero, and other sources. It is not a very interesting story. If you’re a grad student or an entry level prof looking to make a name, there may be a couple of good papers to be gotten from it, but it is, for many of us, simple boring.

The Monk’s Tale—The Monk offers some tales of tragedy. Tragedy is defined as:

Tragedie is to seyn a certeyn storie,
As olde bokes maken us memorie,
Of him that stood in greet prosperitee
And is y-fallen out of heigh degree
Into miserie, and endeth wrecchedly.
And they ben versifyed comunly
Of six feet, which men clepe exametron.
In prose eek been endyted many oon,
And eek in metre, in many a sondry wyse.
Lo! this declaring oughte y-nough suffise.

We don’t have the Aristotelian concept that the person is a great, or noble man, nor do we have any discussion of hamartia, peripateia, recognition, or any of the other hallmarks from Aristotle. So we get a number of stories, of varying length, in stanzas like this:

At Lucifer, though he an angel were,
And nat a man, at him I wol biginne;
For, thogh fortune may non angel dere,
From heigh degree yet fel he for his sinne
Doun in-to helle, wher he yet is inne.
O Lucifer! brightest of angels alle,
Now artow Sathanas, that maist nat twinne
Out of miserie, in which that thou art falle.

The rhymes are ababbcbc.

This passage:

This king of kinges proud was and elaat,
He wende that god, that sit in magestee,
Ne mighte him nat bireve of his estaat:
But sodeynly he loste his dignitee,
And lyk a beste him semed for to be,
And eet hay as an oxe, and lay ther-oute;
In reyn with wilde bestes walked he,
Til certein tyme was y-come aboute.

although Biblically based, resonated with me because it sounded so reminiscent of the recent fall of another tyrant.

July 20, 2008

The Monk also includes the tale of Ugolino. Readers of Dante will be familiar with the tale from Inferno, xxxii and xxxiii. (Try the Princeton Dante Project for texts and translations of Dante’s works.)

Chaucer concludes the story of Ugolino with this stanza:

Him-self, despeired, eek for hunger starf;
Thus ended is this mighty Erl of Pyse;
From heigh estaat fortune awey him carf.
Of this Tragedie it oghte y-nough suffyse.
Who-so wol here it in a lenger wyse,
Redeth the grete poete of Itaille,
That highte Dant, for he can al devyse
Fro point to point, nat o word wol he faille.

The Nonne Preestes Tale—This is the tale of Chanticleer, Pertelote, and the fox. Back in the old days, when they still taught literature in high school, this was one of the bits of Chaucer that everybody was taught. So I think I can pass over it without extensive comment.

The Physician’s Tale—This is the tale of Virginius, his daughter, Appius, and Claudius. It originates in Livy, III, 44-58, and is also found in The Romance of the Rose. The daughter, Virginia, is 14, “twelf yeer was and tweye.” (The first time around I misread tweye as something other than two. The line should apparently be read as saying 12 years plus 2 more.) Needless to say as with any young girl who excites the interest of a dirty old man, she comes to a bad end.

July 22, 2008

The Pardoner’s Tale—This is another chestnut from the anthologies. I think I first read it back in 1964 or 1965 when I took the Introductory English lit class, though my copy of the complete tales dates back even earlier. I don’t think there’s too much new that I can add.

The Wife of Bath’s Tale—Freud is supposed to have asked what women want. If he had read this tale, he would have known. Maistrye (mastery) over men. The wife’s prologue is far longer than her tale, and she is quite loquacious in describing her married life. In the tale proper a knight rapes a young lady. Rather than being sentenced to death he is sent on a quest to find out what women really want. He finally encounters a woman, a fairy, who reveals to him that women want mastery. He is ultimately given the choice of having the lady either foul and constant or fair and unfaithful. He tells her to choose, and she responds:

“Thanne have I gete of yow maistrye,” quod she,
“Sin I may chese, and governe as me lest?”

The knight has the good sense to respond:

'Ye, certes, wyf,' quod he, 'I holde it best.'

The tale then concludes with the two living together in bliss.

'Kis me,' quod she, 'we be no lenger wrothe;
For, by my trouthe, I wol be to yow bothe,
This is to seyn, ye, bothe fair and good.
I prey to god that I mot sterven wood,
But I to yow be al-so good and trewe
As ever was wyf, sin that the world was newe.
And, but I be to-morn as fair to sene
As any lady, emperyce, or quene,
That is bitwixe the est and eke the west,
Doth with my lyf and deeth right as yow lest.
Cast up the curtin, loke how that it is.'
And whan the knight saugh verraily al this,
That she so fair was, and so yong ther-to,
For Ioye he hente hir in his armes two,
His herte bathed in a bath of blisse;
A thousand tyme a-rewe he gan hir kisse.
And she obeyed him in every thing
That mighte doon him plesance or lyking.

Note that she has gained mastery, but then she obeys him in everything that is to his pleasure or liking.

And thus they live, un-to hir lyves ende,
In parfit Ioye; and Iesu Crist us sende
Housbondes meke, yonge, and fresshe a-bedde,
And grace toverbyde hem that we wedde.
And eek I preye Iesu shorte hir lyves
That wol nat be governed by hir wyves;
And olde and angry nigardes of dispence,
God sende hem sone verray pestilence.

The Friar’s Tale—This one is aimed at a companion on the journey, a summoner. I think the nearest modern equivalent is a process server. The tale is essentially a coarse gest aimed at the Summoner.

The Summoner’s Tale—A reply, of sorts, to the Friar’s tale. In older days it would have been called obscene, today I would think that it’s merely somewhat ribald.

The Clerk’s Tale—This is the tale of patient Griselda. The story originates with Bocaccio, and is then picked up by Petrarch and others prior to Chaucer. The Clerk claims to have gotten it from Petrarch.

A nobleman marries a poor girl, then puts her through three psychologically grueling tests over a period of years. She endures them, and is restored to her rightful position.

Chaucer gives Walter’s motivation, such as it is, and a comment upon it in the following lines.

Ther fil, as it bifalleth tymes mo,
Whan that this child had souked but a throwe,
This markis in his herte longeth so
To tempte his wyf, hir sadnesse for to knowe,
That he ne mighte out of his herte throwe
This merveillous desyr, his wyf tassaye,
Needless, god woot, he thoughte hir for taffraye.

He hadde assayed hir y-nogh bifore,
And fond hir ever good; what neded it
Hir for to tempte and alwey more and more?
Though som men preise it for a subtil wit,
But as for me, I seye that yvel it sit
Tassaye a wyf whan that it is no nede,
And putten her in anguish and in drede.

Is the comment beginning “He hadde assayed hir,” Chaucer’s comment, or the Clerk’s, or both? In any case it does seem to recognize that there is a bit of sadism in Walter’s tests.

Is Griselda supposed to be an example of patient endurance, a female Job? I wonder if there is a bit of irony here. Does Walter exemplify the high cost of male dominance over the female when it passes over to sadism. In the Wife of Bath’s tale the lady establishes mastery over the husband, and has his acknowledgement of it, and then apparently relinquishes it so that they live in harmony. In this tale the wife acknowledges the husband’s mastery and dominance from the outset, and he uses it in a sadistic way.

What is disturbing in this tale is that Griselda is pretty much a door mat throughout the story. I kept thinking that it would make an interesting musical. The songs would function in much the same way that the soliloquys function in Shakespeare’s plays, and reveal the characters’ innermost thoughts. Act I would be the prologue that introduces Walter. Act II would be the courtship, marriage, and birth of the daughter. Griselda would have a song that expresses her inner struggle and final submission. This pattern would be repeated in Acts III and IV. Act V is the fake marriage, but concludes with the renewal of Walter and Griselda’s love, thus ending with the traditional gamos of comedy.

The Merchant’s Tale—This one is set about 600 years BV (Before Viagra). It’s the tale of an old man, Januarius, who marries a young woman, May. As always with such marriages, he lacks the vigor to keep her happy. When a young knight propositions her, she finds it impossible to resist. They arrange to have a fling in a tree while Januarius, who is blind, is below. When Pluto sees this, he resolves to restore his sight to Januarius, and Proserpina counters by giving May the ability to talk her way out of it.

The Squire’s Tale—This is what appears to be a long rambling tale that is cut short.

The Franklyn’s Tale—This is a story about a wife who resists an attempt on her virtue, and then makes a fatal mistake. She refuses him:

She gan to loke up-on Aurelius:
'Is this your wil,' quod she, 'and sey ye thus?
Never erst,' quod she, 'ne wiste I what ye mente.
But now, Aurelie, I knowe your entente,
By thilke god that yaf me soule and lyf,
Ne shal I never been untrewe wyf
In word ne werk, as fer as I have wit:
I wol ben his to whom that I am knit;
Tak this for fynal answer as of me.'

This would have been fine, but then she takes it into her head to make a jest.

But after that in pley thus seyde she:
'Aurelie,' quod she, 'by heighe god above,
Yet wolde I graunte yow to been your love,
Sin I yow see so pitously complayne;
Loke what day that, endelong Britayne,
Ye remoeve alle the rokkes, stoon by stoon,
That they ne lette ship ne boot to goon—
I seye, whan ye han maad the coost so clene
Of rokkes, that ther nis no stoon y-sene,
Than wol I love yow best of any man;
Have heer my trouthe in al that ever I can.'Ther fil, as it bifalleth tymes mo,
Whan that this child had souked but a throwe,
This markis in his herte longeth so
To tempte his wyf, hir sadnesse for to knowe,
That he ne mighte out of his herte throwe
This merveillous desyr, his wyf tassaye,
Needless, god woot, he thoughte hir for taffraye.
He hadde assayed hir y-nogh bifore,
And fond hir ever good; what neded it
Hir for to tempte and alwey more and more?
Though som men preise it for a subtil wit,
But as for me, I seye that yvel it sit
Tassaye a wyf whan that it is no nede,
And putten her in anguish and in drede.

So naturally the lover goes to find a magician who can do this. The magician creates an illusion that the rocks have disappeared. Now Chaucer doesn’t go into this, but since the condition was that the rocks disappear, not that they seem to disappear, would she still be obligated to fulfill the contract? It seems to me that a species of fraud is involved.

In any event, all parties eventually choose to do the right thing.

The Second Nun’s Tale–The legend of St. Cecilia. I believe Chaucer gives its source as the Golden Legend. The source is a hagiographical account of the lives of various saints. It’s not to be taken too seriously as a work of history.

The Canon Yeoman’s Tale—Two tales about alchemy.

The Manciple’s Tale—Apollo has a pet crow that reveals his wife’s adultery. Apollo kills her, and then in remorse turns the crow black, and gives it an unmelodious voice.

The Parson’s Tale—I’m still reading this, but it’s a sermon on penitence and the 7 deadly sins. If you saw the movie Se7en, you may remember that there’s a scene in which Morgan Freeman’s character goes to the library to bone up on the seven deadly sins. He gets La Commedia, and The Canterbury Tales, among other books. This is probably the tale that he turns to. (If you haven’t seen Se7en, you should. It’s worth owning, so get it from Amazon.)

The parson’s comments and his remedies are familiar, which is not a bad thing. In fact I would take it as a positive thing. The difficult thing is to actually put it into practice.

[Update: August 5, 2008] Chaucer gives quite a long piece on the seven deadly sins, so any readers might be interested in what he has to say.

Superbia (Pride)—Along with the standard symptoms he also gives scantiness of clothing. Now ornate or fancy clothing has already been covered, and you might think that scantiness of clothing pertains to lust, as an enticement to sex, but Chaucer, or the parson sees it differently:

Upon that other syde, to speken of the horrible disordinat scantnesse of clothing, as been thise cutted sloppes or hainselins, that thurgh hir shortnesse ne covere nat the shameful membres of man, to wikked entente. / Allas! somme of hem shewen the boce of hir shap, and the horrible swollen membres, that semeth lyk the maladie of hirnia, in the wrappinge of hir hoses; / and eek the buttokes of hem faren as it were the hindre part of a she-ape in the fulle of the mone. / And more-over, the wrecched swollen membres that they shewe thurgh the degysinge, in departinge of hir hoses in whyt and reed, semeth that half hir shameful privee membres weren flayn.
Invidia )Envy)—This apparently arises out of pride. There are several species of envy:
The speces of Envye been thise: ther is first, sorwe of other mannes goodnesse and of his prosperitee; and prosperitee is kindely matere of Ioye; thanne is Envye a sinne agayns kinde. / The seconde spece of Envye is Ioye of other mannes harm; and that is proprely lyk to the devel, that evere reioyseth him of mannes harm. / Of thise two speces comth bakbyting; and this sinne of bakbyting or detraccion hath certeine speces, as thus. Som man preiseth his neighebore by a wikke entente; / for he maketh alwey a wikked knotte atte laste ende. Alwey he maketh a 'but' atte laste ende, that is digne of more blame, than worth is al the preisinge. / The seconde spece is, that if a man be good and dooth or seith a thing to good entente, the bakbyter wol turne all thilke goodnesse up-so-doun to his shrewed entente. /495 The thridde is, to amenuse the bountee of his neighebore. / The fourthe spece of bakbyting is this; that if men speke goodnesse of a man, thanne wol the bakbyter seyn, 'parfey, swich a man is yet bet than he'; in dispreisinge of him that men preise. / The fifte spece is this; for to consente gladly and herkne gladly to the harm that men speke of other folk. This sinne is ful greet, and ay encreseth after the wikked entente of the bakbyter. / After bakbyting cometh grucching or murmuracion; and somtyme it springeth of inpacience agayns god, and somtyme agayns man.
Ira (Anger)—This is divided into the good kind and the sinful kind, and the sinful kind is further divided:
The gode Ire is by Ialousye of goodnesse, thurgh which a man is wrooth with wikkednesse and agayns wikkednesse; and therfore seith a wys man, that 'Ire is bet than pley.' / This Ire is with debonairetee, and it is wrooth withouten bitternesse; nat wrooth agayns the man, but wrooth with the misdede of the man; as seith the prophete David, Irascimini et nolite peccare. /540 Now understondeth, that wikked Ire is in two maneres, that is to seyn, sodeyn Ire or hastif Ire, withouten avisement and consentinge of resoun. / The mening and the sens of this is, that the resoun of man ne consente nat to thilke sodeyn Ire; and thanne it is venial. / Another Ire is ful wikked, that comth of felonye of herte avysed and cast biforn; with wikked wil to do vengeance, and therto his resoun consenteth; and soothly this is deedly sinne.
Chaucer uses “debonair” and its variants quite a bit. When I think of someone who is debonair I tend to picture Fred Astaire or Cary Grant, but to Chaucer it evidently means meekness, and gentleness.
Anger is the sin that Brad Pitt’s character is subject to in Se7en.
Accidia (Sloth)—This is spiritual laziness.
Thanne is Accidie enemy to everich estaat of man; for certes, the estaat of man is in three maneres. / Outher it is thestaat of innocence, as was thestaat of Adam biforn that he fil into sinne; in which estaat he was holden to wirche, as in heryinge and adouringe of god. / Another estaat is the estaat of sinful men, in which estaat men been holden to laboure in preyinge to god for amendement of hir sinnes, and that he wole graunte hem to arysen out of hir sinnes. / Another estaat is thestaat of grace, in which estaat he is holden to werkes of penitence; and certes, to alle thise thinges is Accidie enemy and contrarie. For he loveth no bisinesse at al. / Now certes, this foule sinne Accidie is eek a ful greet enemy to the lyflode of the body; for it ne hath no purveaunce agayn temporel necessitee; for it forsleweth and forsluggeth, and destroyeth alle goodes tem-poreles by reccheleesnesse.
Avaricia (Avarice)—This is distinguished from mere covetousness:
And the difference bitwixe Avarice and Coveitise is this. Coveitise is for to coveite swiche thinges as thou hast nat; and Avarice is for to withholde and kepe swiche thinges as thou hast, with-oute rightful nede.
Chaucer links it with idolatry:
Soothly, this Avarice is a sinne that is ful dampnable; for al holy writ curseth it, and speketh agayns that vyce; for it dooth wrong to Iesu Crist. /745 For it bireveth him the love that men to him owen, and turneth it bakward agayns alle resoun; / and maketh that the avaricious man hath more hope in his catel than in Iesu Crist, and dooth more observance in kepinge of his tresor than he dooth to service of Iesu Crist. / And therfore seith seint Paul ad Ephesios, quinto, that 'an avaricious man is in the thraldom of ydolatrie.'
The remedy of avarice is mercy or misericordia:
Now shul ye understonde, that the relevinge of Avarice is misericorde, and pitee largely taken. And men mighten axe, why that misericorde and pitee is relevinge of Avarice? / Certes, the avaricious man sheweth no pitee ne misericorde to the nedeful man; for he delyteth him in the kepinge of his tresor, and nat in the rescowinge ne relevinge of his evene-cristene. And therfore fore speke I first of misericorde. /805 Thanne is misericorde, as seith the philosophre, a vertu, by which the corage of man is stired by the misese of him that is misesed. / Up-on which misericorde folweth pitee, in parfourninge of charitable werkes of misericorde. / And certes, thise thinges moeven a man to misericorde of Iesu Crist, that he yaf him-self for oure gilt, and suffred deeth for misericorde, and forgaf us oure originale sinnes; / and therby relessed us fro the peynes of helle, and amenused the peynes of purgatorie by penitence, and yeveth grace wel to do, and atte laste the blisse of hevene. / The speces of misericorde been, as for to lene and for to yeve and to foryeven and relesse, and for to han pitee in herte, and compassioun of the meschief of his evene-cristene, and eek to chastyse there as nede is. /810 Another manere of remedie agayns Avarice is resonable largesse; but soothly, here bihoveth the consideracioun of the grace of Iesu Crist, and of hise temporel goodes, and eek of the godes perdurables that Crist yaf to us; / and to han remembrance of the deeth that he shal receyve, he noot whanne, where, ne how; and eek that he shal forgon al that he hath, save only that he hath despended in gode werkes.
Gula (Gluttony)—The great failing of our modern age. Even our poor people are miserably obese:
After Avarice comth Glotonye, which is expres eek agayn the comandement of god. Glotonye is unmesurable appetyt to ete or to drinke, or elles to doon y-nogh to the unmesurable appetyt and desordeynce coveityse to eten or to drinke. / This sinne corrumped al this world, as is wel shewed in the sinne of Adam and of Eve. Loke eek, what seith seint Paul of Glotonye.
Luxuria (Lust)—Many things are condemned here, Almost all of them are listed in paragraph 76 of the tale. In 79, however, we come across something that many of us may have seen in modern English:
Now comth, how that a man sholde bere him with his wyf; and namely, in two thinges, that is to seyn in suffraunce and reverence, as shewed Crist whan he made first womman. /925 For he ne made hir nat of the heved of Adam, for she sholde nat clayme to greet lordshipe. / For ther-as the womman hath the maistrie, she maketh to muche desray; ther neden none ensamples of this. The experience of day by day oghte suffyse. / Also certes, god ne made nat womman of the foot of Adam, for she ne sholde nat been holden to lowe; for she can nat paciently suffre: but god made womman of the rib of Adam, for womman sholde be felawe un-to man. / Man sholde bere him to his wyf in feith, in trouthe, and in love, as seith seint Paul: that 'a man sholde loven his wyf as Crist loved holy chirche, that loved it so wel that he deyde for it.' So sholde a man for his wyf, if it were nede.
I have no idea if this chestnut originated with Chaucer, or if it has an even earlier source.

Chaucer’s Retraction—The sermon is slow going, so I skipped ahead to the end, which is about a page long. Chaucer essentially apologizes for anything that he might have said or done to give offense, and lists his books.

Next up, The Allegory of Love by C. S. Lewis. This focuses on medieval literature, including The Romance of the Rose, and Chaucer. This will be followed by Machiavelli, Tbe Prince and Discourses on Livy, Rabelais, and an essay by Martin Luther.

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