Chaucer and the Cultures of Love and Marriage

August 2012
252 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Bristol Studies in Medieval Cultures
ISBN: 9781843843214
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
BISAC LIT011000, LIT004120

Chaucer and the Cultures of Love and Marriage

Cathy Hume

Substantial new readings of Chaucer's poems, offering a fresh perspective on some of the major controversies in Chaucer scholarship.
Chaucer's preoccupation with love and marriage has been a focus of criticism for more than a century. Here, the love relationships and marriages in six of the Canterbury Tales, Troilus and Criseyde, and the Legend of Good Women are reappraised from a fresh direction, using late medieval letter collections and advice literature for women to shed new light on the competing cultures of love and marriage that troubled both Chaucer himself and his contemporaries. Beginning with a concise summary of the history of marriage in fourteenth-century England, and making use of recent research in social history, the volume goes on to analyse letter collections and advice books in order to reconstruct late medieval ideology and practice. Among other elements, the author discusses the flirtatiousness of court culture, the anti-love discourse of advice literature, courtship conventions, rival models of marriage among the bourgeoisie and aristocracy, and the pathos of arranged marriages.

Dr Cathy Hume is currently a visiting scholar at Northwestern University.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Marriage and love in late medieval England
'The name of soveraynetee': The Franklin's Tale
'Humble servant to youre worthynesse': the Clerk's Tale
Domestic opportunities: The social comedy of the Shipman's Tale
Love in confinement in the Merchant's Tale
The Man of Law's Tale: The medieval marriage market and human suffering
The Knight's Tale and Emily's marriage: Chain of love or prison fetters?
'Nyce fare': The courtly culture of love in Troilus and Criseyde
Beyond the bounds of good behaviour: Imprudent fidelity in the Legend of Good Women


Well-written and insightful, an excellent resource for any Chaucer scholar to add to his or her bookshelf. CITHARA

Casts new light on Chaucer's representation of marriage in relation to 'real human lives' and his 'own social reality'. REVIEW OF ENGLISH STUDIES

[A] rich and extremely interesting book. One of the most rewarding aspects of Hume's work is the invaluable evidence that it builds for the sheer complexity of late-medieval attitudes to love and marriage, both ideologically and in practice. LITERATURE & HISTORY

[B]y bringing the Chaucer canon into dialogue with works whose full cultural significance has yet to be realized, she offers a new way of interpreting how Chaucer responded to and reflected on the expectations and realities of his own time. As Hume demonstrates, the "marriage debate" beyond the Canterbuty Tales universe still has much to contribute to our understanding of Chaucerian love and marriage. TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT

The first study to apply such a broad and detailed reading of letter collections and advice literature to Chaucer. CHOICE

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