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Oxford Studies in Medieval Literature and Culture

Boccaccio, Chaucer, and Stories for an Uncertain World

Agency in the Decameron and the Canterbury Tales

Robert W. Hanning

Boccaccio, Chaucer, and Stories for an Uncertain World

Oxford Studies in Medieval Literature and Culture

Boccaccio, Chaucer, and Stories for an Uncertain World

Agency in the Decameron and the Canterbury Tales

Oxford Studies in Medieval Literature and Culture: Boccaccio, Chaucer, and Stories for an Uncertain World

 

A comparative study of Boccaccio's Decameron and Chaucer's Canterbury Tales that explores the differences and similarities between the worlds that are portrayed by each text, with a focus on the strategies and limits of personal agency, and the significance and social dynamics of story-telling.


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Beschrijving Oxford Studies in Medieval Literature and Culture: Boccaccio, Chaucer, and Stories for an Uncertain World

Boccaccio, Chaucer, and Stories for an Uncertain World understands the Decameron and the Canterbury Tales to communicate a radical uncertainty haunting most human endeavors, one that challenges effective knowledge of the future, the past, or the distant present; accurate perception of both complex, equivocal signifying systems, including language, and the intentions hidden rather than revealed by the words and deeds of others; and
successful strategy in dealing with the chronic excesses and arbitrariness of power. This comparative study of Decameron novelle and Canterbury pilgrim tales yields the insight that the key to coping with these challenges is pragmatic prudence: rational calculation issuing in an opportunistic, often amoral choice of ingenious deeds
and/or eloquent words appropriate (though without guarantee) to mastering a specific crisis, and achieving the goal of agency in the here and now, not salvation in the Hereafter. An initial chapter explores the Aristotelian antecedents, contemporaneous cultural influences, and narrative techniques that intersect to shape the radically uncertain world of the Decameron and the Canterbury Tales, while succeeding chapters pair, and compare, stories from both collections that
illustrate the quest for agency-its successes and its failures—through plots often brilliantly adapted from simpler antecedents, as well as eloquence by turns satiric and insightful. This is storytelling that exposes a culture's fears, as well as its aspirations for mastery over the circumstances that challenge its
existence; reading these tales should be a labor of love and the goal of this study is to help assure that the reader's labor shall not be lost.


ISBN
9780192894755
Pagina's
384
Verschijnt
Serie
Oxford Studies in Medieval Literature and Culture
NUR
320
Druk
1
Uitvoering
Hardback
Taal
Engels
Uitgever
OUP Oxford

Literaire non-fictie