Chaucerian Realism

August 1994
167 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Chaucer Studies
ISBN: 9780859914093
Format: Hardback

Chaucerian Realism

Robert Myles

Myles challenges the convention of the `medieval mind' and perceives new semantic sophistication in Chaucer's language.
NB DSB BLURB ON CERTAIN OCCASIONS What is the difference between saying something and meaning it, and saying something and not meaning it? A modern question. A Chaucerian question. Through his analysis of intentionality and the metaphysics of speech, Robert Myles shows why Chaucer's appreciation of the functioning of language and thought could be `modern'. Through his analysis of Chaucer's works, particularly the Friar's Tale, Myles demonstrates that Chaucer's understanding of these is modern and the myth of the medieval mind as other than our own is exploded. The medieval belief in intentionality, the object-directedness of all beings, allowed appreciation of a fact: thought and language areintentional. On a practical level Chaucer deliberately exploits three-level semantics (signs are simultaneously mind-drected and world-directed) to create `realistic' fiction in the modern literary sense of the term. Myles also argues that Chaucer is a realist in the philosophical sense, a view which goes counter to the current of much recent criticism. This book will not only be a challenging addition to medieval and Chaucerian studies, but has interesting implications for the historical study of intentionality, semiotics and epistemology.
DR ROBERT MYLESis senior lecturer at the English and French Language Centre, McGill University, and a research fellow at the Department of English, McGill University, Montreal, Canada.


The most important contribution to considerations over the past decade of the philosophical components of Chaucer's poetry, his psychology, and his semiotic theory... The best discussion I know of the central component of Chaucer's philosophical disposition — intentionality. The argument combines a rich understanding of medieval philosophical tradition in these matters, useful comparisons with 20th-century writings on the topic, and, especially, a lively and just application of the materials to the understanding of Chaucer's poetry. SPECULUM [Russell A. Peck]Joins the ranks of only a handful of sustained, book-length studies of the philosophical implications of Chaucer's poetry, and for this reason it represents an important contribution to the field. STUDIES IN THE AGE OF CHAUCERWith the panache and conviction of a medieval theologian (but with the benefit of modern linguistic theory and semiotics) [Miles] deploys an argument dazzling in its learning, careful in its categories, subtle in its development, and irresistible in its logic. MLR [Peter Brown]

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