Chaucer and the Imaginary World of Fame

May 1984
264 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Chaucer Studies
ISBN: 9780859911627
Format: Hardback

Chaucer and the Imaginary World of Fame

Piero Boitani

is one of Chaucer's most intellectually challenging poems, drawing on diverse traditions such as dream poetry and mythology, but unified by the central concept of Fame. It is this concept, and the `imaginary world' which surrounds it, which Professor Boitani explores in this volume in the Chaucer Studies series. He begins with a brief outline and discussion of the poem, showing what problems it poses, and then turns to explore the `history and meaning of the idea of Fame, such as Chaucer might have received from tradition', a quest which leads him into Biblical, classical and Anglo-Saxon literature, into philosophy and into romance. He then examines the view of Fame in Chaucer's Italian, French and English contemporaries, and shows that it is a central theme not only in Dante's Divine Comedy but also in the work of Boccaccio and Petrarch. The second half of the book returns to Chaucer's poem and examines the imaginary world which he constructs around Fame. Professor Boitani demonstrates that The House of Fame is in a sense Chaucer's creative manifesto, centred on Fame as the goddess of language, myth and poetry, with poets as her prophets. In this poem, he defines many of the themes - Love and Nature, order and disorder, fortune and chance, reality and appearance - which occupied him in his other works. Here he deals with them directly rather than obliquely, revealing the formative influences behind his own imaginary world and mythology..


`Boitani is regularly illuminating on how the ideas in The House of Fame are used in Chaucer's other works and when he comes to consider the poem itself he is particularly good on its imagery . . . There are some fine perceptions.' S. S. Hussey, The Times Higher Education Supplement.

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