The Franklin's Prologue and Tale Paperback
Edited by A. C. Spearing
Part of the Selected Tales from Chaucer series
A well-established and respected series. Texts are in the original Middle English, and each has an introduction, detailed notes and a glossary.
Selected titles are also available as CD recordings.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 154 pages, 1 halftone
- Publisher: Cambridge University Press
- Publication Date: 19/05/1994
- Category: English literature
- ISBN: 9780521466943
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Review by waltzmn
Call it a split decision.The technique in the Cambridge "Selected Tales from Chaucer" series is mostly good: Select a good text of a <i>Canterbury Tale,</i> print it in a modernized form that helps the relatively casual reader, supply a glossary and notes, and offer a good introduction to the sources and problems of the tale.All of this is done in this edition, although I really wish there had been glossing on the page. And the introduction is detailed and useful -- and somehow just doesn't seem <i>right.</i> There is too much legalism. For example, it argues that the whole crux of the Tale -- <spoiler>Dorigen's promise to sleep with Aurelius if he can remove the rocks of Brittany -- is non-binding because it violated Dorigen's prior oath to her husband</spoiler>. This argument might prevail in a court of law. But it <i>misses the point.</i> Dorigen had created for herself a genuine moral dilemma, and she knew it even if the editor doesn't, and the whole point is that it works itself out because she maintains her <i>trouthe.</i> (That is, her truth, her troth, her integrity, her station in life, her honesty -- it's a very rich word.) Because <i>"trouthe</i> is the highest thing that man can keep." With that line, Chaucer justified his tale -- and, indeed, justified all his romances.The editor downplays that. Not completely -- it's too important a point to brush aside. But it's almost as if <i>trouthe</i> is an inconvenience in the way of <i>gentilesse</i> (gentleness, nobility), the other virtue of the Tale.This really grated with me. But I'm an oddity -- I really feel <i>trouthe,</i> and I regard it as the highest thing, and I find it hard to understand someone who seems to be writing it off. Set that aside and you have a very good book. I'm just not ready to set it aside.