The book begins with a brief prefatory discussion of its relation to structuralist and post-structuralist criticism. The first chapter, `Apocryphal Voices', surveys the basis of modern critical approaches to persona and `irony' in Chaucer's poetry, and suggests that such approaches are better suited to unequivocally written contexts. A systematic hesitation between a wholly written and a wholly spoken context requires critical distinctions between types of persona, and a number of distinctions in the range between persona and voice. `Morality in its Context' examines the Pardoner and his tale and argues against a `dramatic' view of the tale itself, while the third chapter, 'Chaucer's Development of Persona', is a study of possible sources for Chaucer's handling of the narratorial '1', looking at the English `disour', the French `dits amoureux', Italian and Latin sources of influence, and the Roman de la Rose. The last two chapters apply the principles outlined so far to Troilus and The Canterbury Tales, with a particular examination of the literary history of the Squire's tale to show that modern interest in dramatic persona has obscured many other important issues and leads to drastic misreading. This is a challenging and lucid work which questions many of the received attitudes of recent Chaucer criticism, and offers a reasoned and approachable alternative view.
`a distinguished series... It is an intelligent and well-written book, on a subject central to Chaucer studies... Students will find Lawton a reliable guide, and scholars will be given much to ponder.' REVIEW OF ENGLISH STUDIES, 151; 8/87
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